Break out the binoculars and telescopes on Saturday, May 19th. Because it’s the first International Sidewalk Astronomy Night. “Sidewalk astronomers” was founded in San Francisco in 1968, when a lot of people were seeing stars, and not just at night. The group’s goal is to expose more people to the beauty and wonder of celestial objects with good viewing equipment and to provide information about what the eyewitnesses are actually looking at.
The most frequently viewed objects are the moon; Jupiter, whose major moons are visible with good binocs; and Saturn. I once trained a cheap telescope on Saturn and some friends were so amazed at the site of the rings they seriously looked at the other end of the scope to see if I had doctored it. Sidewalk Astronomy Night is indeed an international event, with dozens of public viewing sites from Beijing to the corner of 81st Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. For more info and to find a site near you, just go to www.sidewalkastronomynight.com. And if there’s no organized site near you, feel free to go outside and look at the stars anyway.