An extra helping of astronomy

Galileo’s first looks at the sky with his homemade telescope in 1609 helped inspire this years’ IYA 2009. Some of his original drawings include (clockwise from left): Saturn and sunspots, the moon in different phases, Jupiter and its moons and the Seven Sisters star cluster. 
Welcome to the new year! 2009 is a special one for our shared interest. It’s the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009), a yearlong celebration of astronomy marking the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first astronomical observations with a telescope, and Johannes Kepler’s publication of the laws of planetary motion in Astronomia Nova.

The International Astronomical Union and UNESCO are coodinating the worldwide celebration and educational outreach. IYA 2009 hopes to bring astronomy to as many of Earth’s 6.8 billion residents as possible. The goal is simple yet profound: increase awareness of the incredible universe around us. Plans call for collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers, outreach both online and in the classroom, and special planetarium and astronomy club programs across the world.

One of the projects is called The Galileoscope: Millons of People Eyeing the Sky. Every participant in an IYA2009 event can buy an easy-to-assemble kit to build a telescope similar to Galileo’s for just $10. Then there’s the Cosmic Diary: The Life of an Astronomer, where professional astronomers will blog about what it’s like to be a working astronomer. Their writings and photos will become the basis of a book to be published later this year.

Never had the pleasure of looking through a telescope? IYA 2009 hopes to change that in 100 Hours of Astronomy on April 2-5, with public observing events and live webcasts from professional observatories coordinated across the globe. Our local club, the Arrowhead Astronomical Society, will be out in force serving up slices of the universe those nights. We hope to see you then.

Dark sky awareness, promotion of gender equity in the sciences, free online astronomy courses, and programs to introduce children in underprivileged countries to the wonders of the sky — the list goes on and on. If you’re a teacher, you’ll have the opportunity to engage your students in the astronomical excitement through the Galileo Teacher Training Program , a complete online resource of astronomy-education content.

In the coming weeks, I’ll update this blog with websites and event schedules. More information and descriptive links can be found here.

1 Response

  1. Kyle Sanos

    Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Prehistoric cultures left behind astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian monuments and Nubian monuments, and early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, Iranians and Maya performed methodical observations of the night sky. However, the invention of the telescope was required before astronomy was able to develop into a modern science. Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars, but professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics.`

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