International Astronomy Day: Celebrating The Stars
In 1973, Doug Berger, president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California created a day to celebrate astronomy for all, according to the website Holiday Insights.
Berger’s rationale for creating International Astronomy Day was “to promote a greater education and understanding of the wonders of the universe.”
International Astronomy Day happens every year on this date. Individual astronomers, astronomy clubs, astronomy classes, and astronomy groups gather together to help teach others about the glory that is the sky, well, the glory that is in the sky as we see it. Individuals who are already a part of the astronomical field as well as those who are interested in it as hobby, for knowledge, or through education, come together to share what they know and help educate newbies.
In fact, it was such a hit that there is also Astronomy Week, which begins the Monday before International Astronomy day every year. So for at least one week every year, schools, scientists, and interested individuals have events, activities, and fun spreading the word about astronomy. Likely for the past week, astronomy clubs and groups have had star-gazing gatherings at night. Perhaps college campuses have had lecturers and activities to promote astronomy. Or maybe people have just taken advantage of online activities like Astronomy Picture of the Day from the NASA website.
The Astronomy Picture of the Day is one way that NASA involves all people in astronomy every day of the year. Each day they post “a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.” Go check out today’s picture entitled Stormy Sunday, and maybe make it part of your daily routine to visually learn more about astronomy.
What is even better about International Astronomy Day is that it has inspired more Astronomy Days throughout the year. For instance, the Astronomical League has claimed April 20, 2013, and October 13, 2013, as two additional days to celebrate and learn more about astronomy.
We need days of recognition like International Astronomy Day to help continue our educations. Knowledge is not just something to acquire while we are in school. Knowledge is something that we should desire for our entire lives. When groups have days to celebrate and spread the word about a certain topic, like International Astronomy Day, then we have PR moments to help remind us to never stop learning, to never stop inquiring.
Tonight, I am going to sit on my porch and look at the stars. I will bring out my astronomy book and learn about the stars and other celestial bodies. Heck, I will probably use my iPhone to download apps to help me find the constellations. Free apps like SkyView Free, Stars new, Planets, and the Night Sky Lite give those on a tight budget an opportunity to understand just what they are looking at. There are also apps to purchase that give more information, more depth, to the night sky.
In celebration of International Astronomy Day, download an app, grab a nightcap, and enjoy the night sky tonight and every night.
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