BY DR EMILY BALDWIN
Posted: 30 March, 2009
Another great Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy kicks off this week with 100 hours of astronomy - the largest single science public outreach event ever organised.
The worldwide event, which so far has over 1,500 events registered in 130 countries, will kick off on 2 April and continue through to 5 April. Over one million people are expected to participate, whereby amateur and professional astronomers alike will share the experience and wonders of the night sky with people who may never have even looked through a telescope before.
For 100 hours, from 2 to 5 April 2009, amateur astronomers, professional astronomers, educators and people all around the world will share the experience of observing the sky. Image: TWAN/Babak Tafreshi.
One ambitious event planned for the occasion is “Around the World in 80 Telescopes”, a live 24 hour video webcast that will begin at 9am on 3 April and will follow the leading ground- and space-based observatories for 24 hours. The project will take viewers to all corners of the Earth, and beyond, with participating telescopes including Gemini North, Keck, the Anglo-Australian Telescope, telescopes in the Canary Islands, the Southern African Large Telescope and ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Even space-based telescopes are taking part, including the Hubble Space Telescope, XMM-Newton and Integral, in a truly world-united event.
The webcast itself will be hosted at the European Southern Observatory’s headquarters in Munich, Germany with live streaming by Ustream.tv. Anyone with a web browser supporting Flash will be able to follow the show via the 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) website and thus be a part of the project.
100HA will also be celebrated with the “Global Star Party”, commencing at sunset on 4 April. Amateur astronomers and societies will be setting up telescopes in public places, from busy streets to shopping centres and military bases to rest homes, to allow as many people as possible to look at the night sky.
While Global Star Party and Around the World in 80 Telescopes are the headline acts, 100HA is also being supported by many other global initiatives such as “Sun Day” to celebrate and highlight the importance of our Sun, “100 Hours of Astronomy Junior”, to connect amateur and professional astronomers with young children around the world, and 100 Hours of Remote Astronomy where observatories around the world are giving free access to their telescopes.
Be a part of a record-breaking worldwide event this International Year of Astronomy, and support your local 100HA events! Search www.100hoursofastronomy.org for your nearest event.