By Patricia Daukantas
Will your skies tonight be cloudy or clear? Here’s hoping the stars are out, because the 100 Hours of Astronomy have begun! But don’t worry – even if the rain is pouring down or the sun is shining brightly, you can still gaze at the heavens.
As I reported in this month's Scatterings column in OPN, the “100 Hours” project is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). Around the world, observatories are throwing open their doors and domes to the public, with the goal of having more people look through a telescope than ever before.
If your local skies are hopelessly cloudy, don’t despair. As this Wired blogger notes, the “100 Hours” event includes streaming video and live “Around the World in 80 Telescopes” webcasts from observatories worldwide. As nighttime “travels” around the world, there’s bound to be a clear sky somewhere. And you’ll be able to “look” virtually through many of the world’s biggest professional telescopes in Hawaii, Europe, India, Chile, South Africa, Australia, Antarctica and Earth orbit. (On the list are some I’ve visited over the years: Kitt Peak and the MMT in Arizona; Gemini North, the Keck Observatory and the California Submillimeter Observatory on Mauna Kea; and Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico.)
Since IYA commemorates the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of an astronomical telescope, it’s interesting to ask: What ever happened to that instrument of his? As recounted in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, it recently left its permanent home in Florence, Italy, for an exhibit at the Franklin Institute in the United States. I can hardly wait to visit it myself!
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