Apr 2, 2009 | 1
Stargazers take note: Today marks the beginning of a four-day celestial celebration called 100 Hours of Astronomy, part of the International Astronomical Union's International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). The IYA2009 marks the 400th anniversary of Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei turning his telescopes to the skies and beginning a new era of astronomical observation.
A kickoff event at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia today showcased one of Galileo's surviving telescopes. According to the institute, this marks the first time one of the two remaining instruments has left Italy.
An international "star party" is scheduled to take place during which telescopes will be made available to the public at different sites around the globe. Many are amateur telescopes set up in parks or on sidewalks; the 100 Hours of Astronomy Web site has details on many of the planned activities. Most star parties are scheduled to take place on Saturday, but some are planned for other times, such as one beginning this evening in New York City, where Columbia University will set up telescopes in Harlem's Powell Plaza for viewing the moon and Saturn.
Aug 14, 2008 | 2
Many researchers were none too happy when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted in 2006 to cast Pluto out from among the planets, demoting it along with similar bodies in the solar system to the status of mere dwarf planets.
Some of them would still like to reverse that decision, or at least convince the public that the IAU process did not reflect the give and take of workaday science. Hence "The Great Planet Debate: Science as Process," a three-day conference under way right now at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
As I write, conference co-organizer and vocal Pluto booster Mark Sykes, director of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona, is set to duke it out this afternoon in a public debate with dwarf planet-proponent Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York.
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