Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year, once in spring and once in the fall.
In the spring, the holiday is held on the Saturday closest to the first quarter Moon between the months of April and May, while in the fall (autumn) it occurs on a Saturday closest to the quarter moon between September and October.
Created in 1973
Astronomy Day was created in 1973 by Doug Berger, then president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California. The unofficial holiday is an attempt to raise the interest of the general public in astronomy by giving them easy access to astronomical instruments like telescopes.
The holiday also seeks to bridge the knowledge gap by giving the public a chance to interact with astronomers and space scientists.
Observe the Sky
On the day, museums, observatories, universities and astronomy clubs around the world set up easily accessible telescopes in public spaces including schools, parks and shopping malls to allow people to observe the skies during the day and night. Other events include lectures and conferences, educational outreach, exhibitions, and essay competitions.
An Ancient Science
Astronomy is the study of celestial bodies and non-Earthly phenomena. It deals with objects like the planets, stars, asteroids as well as events such as eclipses and meteor showers.
Studied since ancient times, the field of astronomy originated and evolved over millennia due to the need for humans to understand the history and science of the Earth and to comprehend the causes of celestial events.
Until very recently, astronomy and astrology were seen as related fields of study. It was only in the 17th century, that the two separated ways. Today, astrology is seen as a field that deals with spirituality rather than science.
How to Celebrate?
- Attend a local Astronomy Day event. Bring family and friends with you and spend some time gazing at the sky through the lenses of a telescope.
- Learn more about astronomy and how to study it as an amateur astronomer. You can start here.
- If you have children in your life, today is the perfect day to introduce them to the magic of astronomy. Who knows, they may grow up to become the next Carl Sagan or Carolyn Shoemaker!
Did You Know…
…that we can actually see the past? Light from distant stars take a very long time to reach the Earth, so when we look at a star through a telescope we are looking at the light that left the star several hundred, thousands or even million years ago!