April 2, 2009

Astronomers Hope To Break Records With Massive Global Celebration

Astronomers around the world are taking part in a marathon in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope in 1609.
Organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) the "100 Hours of Astronomy" event is expected to bring a large audience to events across the globe as well as a massive online audience of participants.

"It is a sense of discovery and awe that astronomers wish to share with our fellow citizens all over the world," said IAU president Catherine Cesarsky.

The IAU hopes to break records by bringing more than one million people together with more than 1,500 events in 130 countries. The event is "a Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009," said the IAU in a statement.

In local communities, astronomers will be setting up telescopes for the public to peer into.

They also plan to conduct a live 24-hour Webcast called "Around the World in 80 Telescopes," which will last from Friday into Saturday.

Participating telescopes include the Hawaii-based telescopes Gemini North and Keck, the Anglo-Australian Telescope, telescopes in the Canary Islands, the Southern African Large Telescope, Chilean observatories such as ESO's Very Large Telescope, space-based telescopes such as the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, ESA XMM-Newton and Integral, among others.

Britain is a big participant of the event this year, and has been placing emphasis on the Moon.

"Your first view of the Moon through a telescope is something you remember for the rest of your life," Andy Fabian, a professor of astronomy at Cambridge and president of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society, told AFP.

"After a career spent studying exotic objects across the Universe, I still feel moved when I look at the extraordinary grandeur of the lunar surface."


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100 Hours Of Astronomy