By Patricia Daukantas
On August 25, 1609, Galileo Galilei showed off his new astronomical telescope to Venetian merchants and lawmakers, so the International Year of Astronomy 2009 collaborators (along with Google) are celebrating the 400th anniversary of the telescope today.
As noted in this blog earlier this year, 2009 has been filled with exciting outreach projects to get the public involved in all aspects of skywatching. The Franklin Institute of Philadelphia (U.S.A.) is in the final weeks of displaying one of Galileo’s original telescopes. The International Year of Astronomy even has its own hit song in Japan.
OPN’s March 2009 feature article on cutting-edge amateur astronomy mentioned a worldwide observing campaign to study the mysterious binary star known as Epsilon Aurigae. Two astronomers, amateur Jeff Hopkins and professional Robert Stencel, want to get as much data as possible during the star system’s eclipse, which happens only every 27.1 years. This month, Stencel and collaborators have launched a new Web site, Citizen Sky, which provides all the tutorials and guidelines to help members of the public collect scientifically useful observations of the variable star – even without a telescope or binoculars.
In honor of today’s anniversary, the Guardian (U.K.) science blog suggests, “Let’s hear it for the inventors and the toolmakers.” Indeed.