This year, National Astronomy Day falls on May 15, 2021. Read on to learn about how this bi-annual celebration began, and how you can celebrate it from wherever you are in the world!
Where it Began
National Astronomy Day was started in 1973 by Doug Berger, who was then the president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California. Like all of us here at Lowell, Doug dreamed of bringing the wonders of the cosmos to people from all walks of life. To accomplish this, he set up telescopes in busy urban areas for people passing by to look through, hoping to spark an interest in the field of astronomy in the general public and encourage them to learn more about it. Doug’s vision paid off—since the first iteration of Astronomy Day, it grew to a national level as it was adopted by groups and organizations across the United States, and finally to an national level as it spread to astronomy enthusiasts around the world.
Originally, Astronomy Day was scheduled to occur on a Saturday that fell on, or near, the first quarter Moon of spring. Today, it’s celebrated twice a year: once during or near a quarter Moon in the spring, and again during or near a quarter Moon in the fall. This is so that the constellations, planets, and other celestial objects that come into view during both seasons can be appreciated by stargazers in both of the Earth’s hemispheres.
How to Celebrate
There are many different ways to celebrate National Astronomy Day—stargazing from your backyard with a telescope or your unaided eye, visiting an observatory or planetarium, simply reading or watching things about space—but the most important thing is to set aside some time to look to the sky and appreciate all the amazing things we know about it, as well its infinite mysteries that we’re yet to solve.
Tune In to our Livestream!
On Saturday, May 15, Lowell Observatory is hosting a livestream in celebration of National Astronomy Day and the 125th anniversary of the historic Clark Telescope! Starting at 8:30pm PDT, join Lowell educators at the Clark Telescope for live looks at the Sombrero Galaxy, the first object that was observed to have Red Shift by Vesto Slipher! Lowell astronomer Deidre Hunter will discuss the Sombrero’s importance to Slipher’s research on what we know today as galaxies, her own modern-day galaxy research, and how she got interested in astronomy. You’ll also hear all about the Clark’s fascinating history and its place in popular culture. Don’t miss out—you can set a reminder to tune in on our Youtube channel!
You can find all of our Live-Streams and more on our YouTube channel!
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