‘Sidewalk Astronomy’ to Sweep the U.S. This Weekend

People across America will havea chance to gaze up at Jupiter and its four largest moons this weekend the sameway Galileo did almost 400 years ago.

To celebrate ?GalileanNights,? a project supported by the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009),public observing events will be held this upcoming weekend in over 50countries. More than 75 events in the United States are planned.

Several observatories willbe available to the public for remote observing sessions and people will beallowed to take photographs of astronomical objects from their own personalcomputers. Participants who take photographs can also submit the images forconsideration in the Galilean Nights astrophotography competition.

?Our goal is to enablepeople of all ages to share the wonder of the night sky by seeing the sameobjects that legendary Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei first observed scientificallyfour centuries ago,? said Douglas Isbell, the U.S. national Single Point ofContact for IYA2009. ?We hope to give many people their first glimpse of the marvelsof the Universe through a telescope, showing them breathtaking sights such asthe cloud bands of Jupiter, and the rocky desolation of craters and mountainranges on our Moon.?

A list of the upcoming nationwide events can be found on theinternational Galilean Nights Web site at www.galileannights.org.

Meanwhile, astronomers across the United Kingdom will conduct Autumn Moonwatch from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. Localized moon-watching events will take place across the UK, plus on Oct. 26 and 27, the Twitter Moonwatch program will involve a global network of amateur stargazers who will be live-tweeting images of the moon, planets, nebulas, galaxies and other astronomical objects.

Twitter Moonwatch followers (@newburyAS and @astronomy2009uk) will be able to post questions about the moon and astronomy and a host of experts will be on hand to answer them.

"The whole idea of holding the Twitter event is to get ordinary people joining in and having fun doing astronomy," said Adrian West from Newbury Astronomical Society. "Many people won?t be able to get to a real Autumn Moonwatch star party so we hope they can join in the virtual star party from wherever they are at the time."

More information on the UK events is here (http://www.astronomy2009.co.uk).

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