Planet hunters at the University of Central Florida invite children to join them for International Observe the Moon Night from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.

Last year, UCF’s Planetary Sciences Group sponsored an event to coincide with the international observation, which drew more than 100 people. So this year the group decided to add special activities during the evening geared toward children. The goal is to share the wonder of astronomy with youngsters and potentially inspire a new generation of space explorers with physics degrees.

“We’re very excited,” said Yan Fernandez, director of the UCF Robinson Observatory and an associate professor of astronomy and physics.. “A lot of us remember looking at the night sky through telescopes as children and being in awe of what we saw, like the moon, our nearest neighbor. We want to make sure children in Central Florida have that same opportunity.”

Children and their families will have an opportunity to see the moon through several telescopes set up on Knights Plaza near the CFE Arena on the main campus. Students and professors will also be on hand to lead other activities for children with star charts, meteorites, and kinesthetic demonstrations. There are even plans to help children “Find the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites on the Moon,” playing off the popular “Where’s Waldo?“ books.

“We’re not forgetting the adults,” Fernandez said. “There will be plenty of opportunity to get a close look at the moon for people of all ages.”

The event is free and open to the public. Parking fees apply. To get live updates, especially if the weather is questionable, look for the UCF Robinson Observatory on Facebook. (www.facebook.com/UCFObservatory)

Hundreds of groups, from national observatories to libraries around the world, will hold similar events the same night, according to the international group’s website. The International Observe the Moon Night (http://observethemoonnight.org/) organization consists of scientists, educators, and moon enthusiasts from government, nonprofit organizations and businesses throughout the United States and across the globe.

According to the website, the goal of the members is to “create the opportunity for people to take notice of the Moon’s beauty and share that experience with one another. Through International Observe the Moon Night, we hope to instill in the public a sense of wonderment and curiosity about our moon.”

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