I was just preparing a new bulletin board for the International Year of Astronomy and see that I am behind the news! Things are already happening, or over, so I'd better get on the ball and let you know about this weekend because you might want to be involved in "Globe at Night". This started March 16th and runs through March 28th. Participants choose a clear night on which stars are visible, take measurements of stars in a portion of the sky using GLOBE's Magnitude Charts, and enter observations into the GLOBE at Night Web site. You can find their site at http://www.globe.gov/GaN/ From this data, scientists can begin to explore the concept of light pollution and to research the patterns of light pollution across the globe.
Did you know that two-thirds of Americans, those living in cities and suburbs, can no longer see the Milky Way from their own backyards and must seek it out elsewhere? At a truly dark location over 10,000 stars can be viewed over the course of a night and the Milky Way is perceived as a breath-taking band spanning the sky. But these places are becoming a rarity as light creeps its way across the United States and pollutes the purity of the night. Many national parks have begun to realize the need to preserve the black, untainted night sky for future generations of stargazers. Bryce Canyon National Park realized the importance of the night sky as a resource nearly four decades ago and as a result has become a leader in night sky protection and appreciation. The park is holding their 9th annual Astronomy Festival June 17-20 this year. Find out more about this at http://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/9thastrofest.htm
The University of Utah started their celebration March 13th, but there are still things going on throughout the year. They'll have public star parties at the theater in the A. Ray Olpin University Union every Wednesday after dark and on the first Monday of every month at 7:30 p.m. They also have a film festival with NOVA documentaries once a month, check at http://www.physics.utah.edu/calendar/IYA.html for times.
If you want to know more about the International year of Astronomy, check their site at http://www.astronomy2009.org/