International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) 2019: what a show!

What a epic show, the recent International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) 2019 was at the Virtual Telescope! We offered a live, online event, making possible for everyone to celebrate the Moon, from a unique place of Rome, the Eternal City.

The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn (just upper left from the Moon) shone above the tower bell of the ancient "Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito in Sassia", Rome. - 5 Oct. 2019

The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn (just upper left from the Moon) shone above the tower bell of the ancient “Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito in Sassia”, Rome. – 5 Oct. 2019

At Virtual Telescope Project, we have been joining the International Observe the Moon Night many times since it was launched, ten years ago. We love the idea to fit the InOMN’s mission sharing both the science and the cultural importance of the Moon, as well as its beauty in the terrestrial scenery.

Living in Rome, the opportunity to capture the wonder of our satellite in a unique skyline is very inspiring, this is why our InOMN events always try to capture the Moon and the City, possibly from a precious place. And for the 2019 edition we really did something special. In addition, this year the Virtual Telescope was asked to be a Key Partner of the International Observe the Moon Night!

Thanks to the extremely kind hospitality of the ASL Roma 1 institution, we could set up our instruments in a simply unique place: the panoramic tower of the ancient “Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito in Sassia“, a place which history started in the 8th Century, with one of the first hospitals in the world. I cannot tell you how breathtaking the view is from up there, just hope the images can give you an idea.

Super sunset while ready to start the live feed. Ph. Alessio Sabatino

Super sunset while ready to start the live feed. Ph. Alessio Sabatino

I had with me both my two Canon 5D mark IV DSLR bodies, equipped with complementary lenses: a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens + Canon EF 1.4x III Extender and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens. I was assisted by Alessio Sabatino, member of the Virtual Telescope team.

Gianluca Masi is setting up his cameras. Ph. Alessio Sabatino

Gianluca Masi is setting up his cameras. Ph. Alessio Sabatino

Ready to go with the live feed for InOMN 2019! ph. Alessio Sabatino

Ready to go with the live feed for InOMN 2019! ph. Alessio Sabatino

At sunset, the sky was partially cloudy, so we enjoyed the special colors of the sky, especially in the West direction, where the legendary St. Peter’s Basilica offered a stunning view, one of the greatest you can hope to have. Colors were simply magnificent and you were left with the impression of something out of this world.

The sunset, as seen from the "Santo Spirito"'s tower: St. Peter's Basilica dominates the western sky, with unbelievable colors all around.

The sunset, as seen from the “Santo Spirito”‘s tower: St. Peter’s Basilica dominates the western sky, with unbelievable colors all around.

While enjoying the sunset, I noticed it was particularly “purplish” and I remembered an article written by my friend Bob King for Sky and Telescope, where he describes the effect on the sunset colors of the ashes coming from the Raikoke volcano in the Kuril Islands and the Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea: in short, that extreme purple hue is due to them, how wonderful!

The sunset hue was quite purple: this is because of the ashed released in the stratosphere by the Raikoke volcano in the Kuril Islands and the Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea.

The sunset hue was quite purple: this is because of the ashed released in the stratosphere by the Raikoke volcano in the Kuril Islands and the Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea.

Of course, the Moon was the “star” of the live feed, particularly this year, as we celebrated last July the 50th Anniversary of the legendary Apollo 11 mission. We could show the landing site of those heroic astronauts, as well as other features of the Moon. Being the first quarter, contrast was just perfect to record craters and other features on the surface of our cosmic neighbor.

The Moon shows some of its beautiful craters and dark seas.

The Moon shows some of its beautiful craters and dark seas.

Time run so fast and soon we approached the end of our live streaming, but InOMN 2019 still had a surprise. The International Space Station was expected to transit above Rome that evening, showing West: from the “Santo Spirito”‘s tower, that was in the direction of the St. Peter’s Basilica, promising an unforgettable sight. A few clouds were there, too, so I could only hope to see it. But fortune was with us and we had a magnificent view: it was particularly special, as right now the Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano is the commander of the ISS.

The International Space Station (ISS) flies beside St. Peter's Basilica: perfect conclusion for the InOMN.

The International Space Station (ISS) flies beside St. Peter’s Basilica: perfect conclusion for the InOMN.

Thousands of people from all around the globe could join InOMN 2019 thanks to our live streaming, especially those unable to reach any physical event’s venue: our offer made InOMN easier to be accessed and we are so happy and proud that Nasa considered our Virtual Project as a Key Partner of the initiative.

I want to thank the ASL Roma 1 institution, in particular its General Director dr. Angelo Tanese and dr. Patrizia Ricca, for their kind hospitality, making possible for the entire world to enjoy the International Observe the Moon Night virtually being in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

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