This year marks the 400th. anniversary Galileo first used a telescope to view the heavens. To celebrate this occasion professional and amateur astronomers alike have set aside this year to educate the general population about the celestial wonders our Universe provides, to give the guy/gal on the street a Galileo moment.
Double Star Cluster in Perseus.
What is a Galileo moment you may ask, it is sharing any astronomical experience, from viewing various celestial objects in the night sky with a telescope/binoculars, the Double Star Cluster above being my favorite, a real show stopper, to pointing out a conjunction or even a constellation, point being to show and teach somebody something they may not already know about our cosmos, kind of what I try to do here, and the main reason I started this blog. Side note here, did you know that the average person stops learning about the science of astronomy at age 10? Think of how much more you know after reading this blog for any length of time then the average person.
To find out what's going on in your area visit the International Year of Astronomy 2009 website and go to your county or as they call them National Nodes, 135 all together, you will receive a "single point of contact" call them up and chat, going to the Canadian node you learn that on January 10 the Ontario Science Center is having a full day of demonstrations and presentations, very cool.
I am having printers do up a poster for me which I downloaded from here, letting passersby know that there is a celestial tour going on in my backyard, my own little tour of the cosmos. An open invitation to any readers who want to hang out in my pod and tour the cosmos with my scope, can't pay for your flight out but to the first 463 people a free pair of Hanna Montanna/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses, hey, while you're down we can do lunch.
There are a lot of regular readers here that are totally qualified to share a Galileo moment, step out of your comfort zone to pass on what you have learned here to the average non astronomical person on the street. I won't leave you hanging, if you feel so inclined to do such an astronomical event, email me, I will give you some good dates in your area and what to point out. You'll be hooked after the looks on people's faces and the appreciation they'll show you with the spark in their eyes.
Moon and the Pleiades meet June 30 2008.
Some upcoming events to watch out for. This Wednesday look to the East at Sunset for the Moon and Pleiades conjunction. On the 12th another conjunction, the Moon meets the Beehive Star Cluster in the constellation Cancer, image below shows what the cluster would look like in binoculars, it is an image I took of the Mars /Beehive conjunction I took last May, look to the East once again around 8:30 pm EST.
Mars and the Beehive Conjunction May 22 2008
A few more events happening throughout the year you may want to consider for your Galileo moment. February 4, March 2, and August 14 all Moon and Pleiades conjunctions. February 27 a beautiful early morning conjunction of Venus and the crescent Moon, look to the east just after Sunrise. Another conjunction to watch out for, April 26 just after Sunset, look to the west to see the Moon/Mercury conjunction with the Pleiades close by. June 19 just before the Sunrise around 4:30am look to the east to see the Moon/Mars/Venus gathering, very pretty. October 8-16 watch the Mercury/Venus/Saturn conjunctions, on October 16 the Moon joins the party, lots more going on, these are just a sampling of what's in the works, again great Galileo moments.
I'll leave you now with one of my Milky Way Galaxy shots twirled in Photoshop.