The International Year of Astronomy 2009
(celebrating the 400th anniversary of humanity turning a telescope to the sky)
Calendar and Resource Guide
by Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College & ASP)
with contributions by Denise Smith, Richard Fienberg, and Andrea Schweitzer
Produced for the upcoming PBS television special “400 Years of the Telescope”
This calendar also available as PDF file or MS Word file.
NASA Theme: Telescopes and Space Probes
Featured object in the sky: Venus (brilliant in the west after sunset)
Summer solstice: when day is the longest and night is the shortest in Northern Hemisphere
The Moon and Saturn are close in the sky in the early evening in the west.
NASA Theme: Black Holes (regions where so much material has collapsed that nothing, not even light, can emerge from them)
Featured object in the sky: The Milky Way (the faint band of stars across the sky which is the disk of the galaxy in which we live)
The Earth is farthest from the Sun in its yearly orbit; a good day to point out that the seasons are NOT caused by our distance from the Sun.
Total eclipse of the Sun (visible from Asia, not from North America; but likely to be broadcast on the Web)
NASA Theme: Planets and Moons
Featured object in the sky: Jupiter (see August 14th, above) and its moons (Galileo’s discovery of the four large moons of Jupiter showed that not everything had to revolve around the Earth)
NASA Theme: What will be the fate of the universe?
Featured object in the sky: The Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the nearest large galaxy to the Milky Way and the only galaxy (barely) visible to the naked eye from the Northern Hemisphere
NASA Theme: The lives of stars (stars are born, go through life stages, and die, just as people do, but they take million or billions of years to do so)
Featured object in the sky: The Crab Nebula (M1), the remnant of a supernova -- a star that exploded in our sky (and was visible in the daytime) in 1054 AD
NASA Theme: Discovering New Worlds
Featured object in the sky: The Orion Nebula (M42), a region of cosmic “raw material” (gas and dust), where we can see new stars in the process of forming. In star lore, the nebula was seen as a spot of blood on the sword of Orion, the hunter
In addition to the web sites included in the table above, you can find more information at:
- U.S. IYA Web Site: http://astronomy2009.us/
- International IYA Web Site: http://www.astronomy2009.org/
- NASA IYA Web Site: http://astronomy2009.nasa.gov/
- Astronomical Society of the Pacific/NASA IYA Activity Guides: http://www.astrosociety.org/iya/guides.html
- 400 Years of the Telescope PBS television show: http://400years.org/
- Resource guide to the life and work of Galileo