Tonight, October 28, 2017, the moon will just past the first-quarter phase and will appear half-illuminated in the sky. You'll be able to see the moon clearly after sunset. Image Credit: Nasa

Dubai: Tonight, October 28, 2017, the moon will just past the first-quarter phase and will appear half-illuminated in the sky. You'll be able to see the moon clearly after sunset.

If you've been ignoring the Moon, that's fine: It's been up there for nearly 4.5 billions of years.  And If you want to go to the moon, some scientists say it may be just 20 years away.

If you are amazed by Moon here below, there are billions of other inhabitants who feel the same way. Even our ancestors had been mystified by the moon most of human history.

What's happening tonight, anyway?

It is actually a moment to celebrate the moon's importance in astronomy.

Institutions worldwide will take part in International Observe the Moon Night: the importance of the moon in everything from eclipses to tides to astronomical observations, will be the discussed, according to the National Aerospace Administration (Nasa).

The most important part of the night is simply the act of observing, said Nasa.

If you've never bothered to look at the moon or the night sky or used a telescope before, tonight might be a good night, said Noah Petro, the deputy project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

Petro will be at an event hosted by Nasa at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

"We have a number of opportunities for people to see what's up in the night sky," Petro said in an interview. "It's very exciting, especially if somebody doesn't do it normally."

Moon-related events

In addition to the Nasa Goddard event, dozens of other moon-related happenings are taking place worldwide. Here's a list of events on the International Observe the Moon website.

Nasa announced that many of this year's events will focus on the role of the moon in solar and lunar eclipses.

How to observe the moon

You can't ignore it. The moon is so large and bright in our night sky that you can look at it with no equipment at all.

On the night of October 28, the moon will be just past the first-quarter phase and will appear half-illuminated in the sky.

With binoculars or a small telescope, you can explore the craters and other features on the right-hand side of the moon (which may appear upside down in some telescopes).

The dark plains, known as "maria", deep craters and rays of material ejected from ancient asteroid collisions are also observable.

Experienced skywatchers recommend that you look along the terminator — or the line between day and night. This is where shadows really show off craters and cast light onto mountain ranges.

Moon fast facts

1. Synchronous rotation

The Moon (or "Luna") is the Earth's only natural satellite. It is in synchronous rotation with Earth — meaning the same side is always facing the Earth.

2. Formation

How was our moon formed? Scientists think it is around 4.47 billion years old and it was formed about 95 million years after the solar system came into being. They think that it happened when huge piece of rock, about the size of the planet Mars, collided with the Earth, breaking off molten rock which then formed the Moon.

3. Satellite

The Moon is actually considered to be a satellite, because it travels around the Earth. It is held in orbit just like all the man-made satellites which move around our planet and which we use for telecommunications.

4. Size

The Moon is the fifth largest moon in the solar system. And it is moving away from the Earth about 1.6 inches per year.

5. What's in the name?

But why is it called 'THE Moon' when there are other moons in the solar system and it's not the only one? Well, it is simply called 'the moon' because people didn't know that other moons existed when it was discovered, up until Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610. The name had kind of stuck by then.

6. How moon influences the tides

The Moon is also responsible for the tides experienced by oceans and seas on our planet. That's because the gravitational pull of the Moon interacts with forces on Earth, and pulls the sea in different directions every single day.

7. Total Solar Eclipse

In August 2017, probably the most spectacular space sight that can be seen from the Earth happened. A total solar eclipse swept across America. As the Moon moved across the Sun and the Sun's light was able to finally peak through, it created this beautiful effect — known as the "diamond ring". 

8. Distance from Earth 

About 238,855 miles away. If you drive at 60kph, it would take you 248 days to get there — with no stops in between.

9. Man on the moon

On 20 July 1969, humans walked on the surface of the Moon for the very first time. While we have learnt so much more about our Moon since then, events like Saturday night hope to encourage people to remain fascinated and keep learning more.