Wildlife Watch and the Year of Astronomy

Reflecting dust around Orion - NASADid you know that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy?

This year was chosen because 2009 is the 400th anniversary of two major astronomical milestones. In 1609, Galileo first used a telescope to observe stars and Johannes Kepler published his paper, Astronomia nova, on the movement of planets. Both of these men and events changed the way we see the universe around us and set the groundwork for all astronomers to come after.

The International Year of Astronomy is hosting events in over 130 countries throughout the year. To show our support, Wildlife Watch is working to promote the International Year of Astronomy by putting astronomical events on the Wildlife Watch List for each season in 2009. This spring, be on the lookout for the lyrids and eta aquarids meteor showers, the opposition of Saturn, the elongation of Mercury and the vernal equinox.

You can also start participating in the GLOBE at Night study (March 16-28, 2009). GLOBE at Night is a two week citizen science program where volunteers map the night sky around the constellation Orion in order to assess the impacts of light pollution.

During 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, take your family outside at night or to a local observatory to study the nighttime sky, planets, comets, meteor showers and eclipses. You might just be inspiring the next generation of explorers and astronauts.

Published: March 17, 2009