By Mike Simmons & Christie McMonigal
Global Astronomy Month (GAM) – Every year in April, the world’s largest annual celebration of astronomy offers a unique demonstration of the power of the night sky to bring people together from around the world. Registered events organized by astronomy clubs, planetariums, and others, pop up on the world map in an array of countries that don’t usually come to mind when thinking of astronomy. GAM is an inspiring expression of the universal passion for astronomy we all share, whoever or wherever we are.
GAM is more than pins on a map — it’s about sharing. Organizers post their event photos and reports, creating a gradually unfolding panoply of astronomy in all its forms. These, in turn, inspire others with new ideas and offer motivation to join the global conversation about all things astronomical. Though the surroundings and people may be unfamiliar, it’s clear that astronomy isn’t all that different in these far flung locales. Children gaze in awe through a telescope for the first time, observers marvel at the beauty of Saturn’s rings, and an astronomy club has a satisfying sense of accomplishment for a well-run star party. These are universal experiences, a perfect demonstration of the common experiences in astronomy that unite us and encourage us to share with others.
Sharing astronomy with others is central to most activities. GAM has something for everyone, and sharing is always part of the fun. Competitions like the AstroPoetry Contest and the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest aren’t just about winning; entrants post on GAM’s social media pages to share their creations with others.
There’s plenty for armchair astronomers as well, with online events like the Cosmic Concert – a new, original composition set to celestial images and videos each year, Virtual Telescope programs, and live programs with interesting guests garnering audiences from a multitude of countries. And again there is sharing, with remarks in comments sections sparking discussions spanning the globe.
This year sees the first Diverse Universe Week, celebrating the diversity of astronomy. Faces of Astronomy asks astronomers around the world to share their photos and stories, how they discovered astronomy and why they are passionate about it. Diverse Universe Week also features a live online webcast with photographers from The World at Night (TWAN) sharing their adventures to remote locations to capture the perfect shot of the night sky. The perfect shot that comes to life only when it is, inevitably, shared with others.
As in the motto of Astronomers Without Borders, GAM’s organizer – One People, One Sky – we are united by our mutual love of astronomy and the recognition that the stars blanket us all together.
Astronomers Without Borders and Celestron work together to bring astronomy programs to amateur astronomers around the world.