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 Date: 3/11/09

Look Up—it’s the International Year of Astronomy

  Year of Astronomy

Sunspots. Solar storms. Eruptions on the sun’s surface.

Those are some of the phenomena you might be able to see this month and next if you accept the Department of Astronomy’s invitation to take a moment to stop and look up.

The astronomy department is celebrating the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) 2009 by offering a number of occasions for the public to enjoy a stellar view of the universe. The celebration, which coincides with the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first look at the sky through a telescope, is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to engage people in a feeling of wonder and curiosity about the universe.

On April 2 and 3, as part of the IYA, people in countries worldwide will gaze at the heavens during 100 Hours of Astronomy.

Meanwhile, here at Smith, the stargazing sessions will take place on the roof of McConnell Hall. The schedule of events:

Thursday, March 12
7-9 p.m., view the full moon

Thursday-Friday, April 2-3 (100 Hours of Astronomy)
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., solar viewing
8:30-9:30 p.m., star gazing

Friday, April 24
8:30-9:30 p.m., dark sky—see galaxies and nebulae

Friday, May 15
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., solar viewing
9-11 p.m., telescopes and hands-on physics

Evening events are held on the roof of McConnell Hall; solar viewing will be on the front steps of the Campus Center. All events are free and open to the public.

The Smith College Observatory has seven 8-inch Celestron telescopes, a 12-inch Meade telescope, two solar telescopes with H-alpha filters (shows the sun in the light of ionized hydrogen), and a solar telescope with a Calcium-K filter (shows the sun in the light of ionized calcium). We expect delivery of a 16-inch Meade telescope sometime in March.

For more information, contact Meg Thacher, 585-3935,


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