Babak Tafreshi / TWAN
|Stargazers will be out in force
during the "100 Hours of
The clock on the "100 Hours" will tick all the way through Sunday, marking what are arguably the biggest dates on the International Year of Astronomy's calendar. More than 1,500 events have been scheduled in 130 countries, with more than a million people expected to participate.
The point of the exercise is to mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's groundbreaking telescopic observations and highlight astronomy's past, present and future. Oh, and to have some fun at the same time.
The kickoff is scheduled at 11 a.m. ET today at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute, where one of Galileo's telescopes is currently on tour. Then, at 1 p.m., experts from science centers around the world will meet up in cyberspace to discuss how different cultures have experienced the night sky - and demonstrate some new tricks.
The big event for Friday through Saturday is "Around the World in 80 Telescopes," a 24-hour Webcast with round-the-clock participation from observatories on every continent. You can look forward to the unveiling of the Hubble Space Telescope's "People's Choice" image of the interacting galaxies known as Arp 274.
Saturday night is party night: Star parties are being organized around the globe to put the public in touch with expert skywatchers. Check out the "100 Hours" event list for a party near you. But be patient: There are so many events listed that it can takes a while to navigate through the map.
Astronomers suggest that you take some time on Sunday to learn about the sun and how to observe our nearest star safely. If the skies are cloudy, during the day or at night, never fear: You can sign up for free observing time on any of more than 20 remotely operated telescopes through the "100 Hours of Remote Astronomy" program.
When the "100 Hours" parties are winding down, the Yuri's Night parties will just be getting started. The first Yuri's Night was held back on April 12, 2001, to mark the 40th anniversary of the first human spaceflight (by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin) and the 20th anniversary of the first space shuttle flight (by Columbia astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen).
Since then, the celebration has gotten so big that it can't be contained in a single night. This year, Yuri's Night lasts more than a week, stretching from Saturday until the big finish on April 12. More than 150 parties have been scheduled in 40 countries, plus the virtual world known as Second Life.
For a look back at Yuri's Nights past, check out these archived items: