100 Hours of Astronomy: an event 400 years in the making

Astronomy Year, Media releases

One of the major cornerstone events of the UN-designated International Year of Astronomy, 100 Hours of Astronomy, will take place over 2-5 April.

This global event will see millions of people all over the world coming out onto the streets at night to participate in “star parties” or public viewings of the sky through telescopes – just as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago. Amateur astronomy groups, observatories, arts and scientific institutions around Australia are organising public events for the 100 Hours.

(Issued by Sue Nelson, Quick Thinking  Communication for the IYA)

During 2-5 April the Moon will be just over half full and a splendid sight in the early evenings. The planet Saturn will also be well placed for viewing.

To find out what’s happening in your area, go to the Australian International Year of Astronomy website www.astronomy2009.org.au and follow the Events Calendar link. The international site 100 Hours of Astronomy www.100hoursofastronomy.org also lists some Australian events.

As well as public star-watching events, there will be a live webcast from the largest telescopes around the world – featuring almost 70 professional observatories from Arizona to Shanghai, the Hubble Space Telescope to the Vatican – during a 24-hour period. Astronomers all over the globe will take viewers inside their telescope domes and control rooms at some of the most advanced observatories on and off the planet.

Australian observatories participating in the webcast are the Anglo-Australian Observatory (Coonabarabran, NSW), the Australian Interferometric Gravitational Observatory (Gingin, WA), the Parkes Observatory (NSW) and the Mount Pleasant Observatory 26-metre Radio telescope (Hobart, Tasmania).

The schedule for the webcast will be posted at http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/ towards the beginning of April.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning a telescope to the heavens. It is a celebration of the science, history and cultural impact of astronomy, and of humanity’s common heritage of the night sky. IYA is coordinated globally by the International Astronomical Union and endorsed by the United Nations.

Media contact for images and interviews: Sue Nelson, Quick Thinking Communications 0403 343 275, sue@qtcommunications.com