National Astronomy Day arrives Saturday, April 28, and with it comes the chance to share and indulge in a passion for the skies. Clubs, learning institutions, and enterprising individuals will be out in full force enticing others (and themselves) with the wonders and sights of space.
Astronomy magazine and renowned telescope-maker Celestron will join together with several of these groups all over the country. More than two dozen locations — from Schenectady, New York, to El Paso, Texas, to Seattle, Washington, and many places in between — will be a part of the year’s biggest star party, and attendees can pick up free reading materials and enter drawings to win prizes. For more details see www.astronomy.com/astronomyday2012.
Astronomy’s Discover the Universe program, a year-round initiative promoting sidewalk astronomy events in public places, will also co-host various smaller star parties. Thousands of people who might otherwise have never thought to gaze up at the sky have gotten their first glimpse through a telescope thanks to this program, and National Astronomy Day typically provides a great excuse to hold such an event. For more details on the program, including how your club can become a part of it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, National Astronomy Day is a great time to excite people about the science and hobby of astronomy, but it’s too important a mission to leave for just one day. That’s why Astronomy magazine and the Astronomy Foundation have planned a series of other major outreach events throughout 2012. Representatives of both groups will attend most, and all will feature free handouts, friendly experts, and great views of the skies. Current plans include:
- The Philadelphia Science Festival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 20–29, including the Astronomy Night stargaze on April 27, with 23 separate locations in and around the city
- The Northeast Astronomy Forum in Suffern, New York, on April 27–29
- Astronomy Night on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on April 28, as part of the USA Science and Engineering Festival
- The Cincinnati Riverfront Star Party (in conjunction with Drake Planetarium) in Cincinnati, Ohio, on June 5, 2012, for the last-in-a-lifetime Venus transit
- The Cherry Springs Star Party near Coudersport, Pennsylvania, on June 14–17
- ALCon 2012 (the national meeting of the Astronomical League, ALPO, NCRAL, and MWAIC) in Chicago, Illinois, on July 4–7, 2012
- The New York Star Party (in conjunction with Discover magazine, Tele Vue Optics, and the Amateur Astronomers Association) in New York City’s Central Park, tentatively scheduled for July 27–28, 2012
- The Chabot Science Center, Astronomy Magazine, and Celestron Star Party in Oakland, California, tentatively scheduled for August 24–25, 2012
With any luck, National Astronomy Day 2012 will be the first of many increasingly visible and influential nights that turn the whole world on to the beauty and marvels of astronomy.