The International Year of Astronomy, 2009 is over, but that doesn’t mean all of its activities nor those activities it highlighted have ended. As March breaks, astronomy heats up once again.
The Globe at Night 2010 campaign will commence on the 3rd of March, ending on the 16th. Between the hours of 8-10pm local time, people are asked to count the numbers of stars visible in the constellation of Orion and compare what they see to starmaps, picking the one that shows the number of stars closest to what was in the sky from a list. This will enable the coordinators of the campaign to investigate how much light pollution, the dull all sky glow created by the reflection of man-made light from particles in the air, there is in various parts of the world. The project is an ongoing annual assessment that provides year to year analyses of light pollution across the world.
On March 20th, a big day for astronomy is the International Sidewalk Astronomers Night. On this night, any person with any equipment they can stick in a public area will be requested to do so to show off the night sky to all comers.
March 20th is also NASA Sun Earth day, which ISAN 4 coordinators have suggested might be a good time to put out telescopes early for public solar observing. There are plenty of suggested activities for all ages and levels of interest on the website.
Of course the highlight of March 20th will be at Kendal Museum, when the new Space Explorers group for 9-16 year olds will be launched. Anyone in charge of such a young astronomer in Kendal should contact Anna at the museum for more information. Space Explorers will aim to meet on the third Saturday of the month and will involve classroom activities as well as talks and hopefully some practical demonstrations of relevance to space research and space travel.
The entirety of April will be taken up by the Global Astronomy Month, 2010. Organised by Astronomers without Borders. They can be contacted through twitter or facebook as well as through the website itself.
Some IYA2009 projects have yet to run their course. The World At Night was a vast photographic effort, bringing together views across the planet of different landscapes and cityscapes against starscapes. Now that they’ve collated so much, TWAN has spawned books, exhibitions and all sorts that will be and in some cases already are running this year. There will be new contests during GAM-2010.
…and finally, if sending your child to Kendal Museum for an afternoon isn’t going to get them out of your hair for long enough, then there’s always the International Astronomical Youth Camp 2010. For 620 Euros (590 if applications are made before the 15th of April), students aged 16-24 (I feel old) may find themselves in the German town of Klingenthal near the border with the Czech Republic for three weeks between August 1st-21st. The fee includes full board, an excursion and plenty of courses on astronomy and astrophysics.