Autumn Moonwatch: Tweeting the Moon  

Autumn Moonwatch
Astronomers across the UK will be helping the public get a close look at the Moon in the Autumn Moonwatch, a major event in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) running from October 24 to November 1, 2009. As well as numerous opportunities to look through a telescope at our nearest celestial neighbor, observations of the Moon will be posted on Twitter in a mass event expected to attract followers from across the world.

Autumn Moonwatch will connect amateur and professional astronomers with the wider community. During the week, groups across the UK will train telescopes on our natural satellite, so that the public can see the craters, mountains and lava plains that make up the dramatic lunar landscape.  Details of each event will be listed on the IYA2009 UK home page at

On the evenings of October 26 and 27, members of Newbury Astronomical Society will lead Twitter Moonwatch, where a global network of amateur stargazers will be live-tweeting images of the Moon and a host of planets, nebulae, galaxies and other astronomical objects. As well as watching events unfold, Twitter Moonwatch followers will be able to post questions about the Moon and astronomy and a host of experts will be on hand to answer them.

With UK amateur astronomy societies and astronomers around the world taking part, the Twitter Moonwatch follows on from the successful Twitter Meteorwatch that covered the Perseid meteor shower in August. It should reach tens of thousands of people.

Adrian West from Newbury Astronomical Society will be a key tweeter. He explains: “The whole idea of holding the Twitter event is to get ordinary people joining in and having fun doing astronomy. Many people won’t be able to get to a real Autumn Moonwatch star party so we hope they can join in the virtual star party from wherever they are at the time.”

Twitter Moonwatch also have teamed up with the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT), who are running a competition for time on the Faulkes Telescope South sited in New South Wales, Australia. This professional class instrument has a mirror 2m across and is normally only available for use by schools. However, LCOGT are offering four 1-hour blocks of time on 27th October, where the lucky winners will be able to take control of the telescope for themselves. Competition winners will be announced October 23.

Steve Owens, the UK Coordinator of IYA2009 comments: “Autumn Moonwatch will give people in the UK a great chance to see the Moon and other astronomical objects through telescopes… Even if you’re under cloud, you can still participate via Twitter Moonwatch and see pictures from all over the world.”

To take part in the Twitter Moonwatch, just follow @NewburyAS and @astronomy2009uk on