I was first going to title this blog “twinkle twinkle little star”. But as I repeated the old nursery rhyme to myself I realised the second line more appropriately captured the essence of astronomy; how I wonder what you are! For eons, we humans have looked up in the night sky I wondered about what the little twinkling wonders were. Depending on our level of scientific and technological advancement it could be simply gazing upward with naked eye and trying to join the dots making imaginary creatures or it could be focusing a humongous telescope array on colliding galaxies to learn about how the universe came about. But the heavenly bodies never stop intriguing us. The branch of science that studies the celestial objects is called ‘astronomy’, from the Greek words astron meaning “star” and nomos meaning “law”. 2009 has been declared the International year of astronomy (IYA 2009).
I have wanted to write about IYA 2009 for a while but today was a good day to do so. The RTR09 campaign for which I’ve been volunteer blogging lately has nothing scheduled for the next three days so it is a good time for me to get back to my science writing. Also, one of the cornerstone projects for IYA 2009, 100 hours of astronomy, began yesterday. This is a worldwide marathon event that goes on for 100 hours straight and astronomers and lovers of astronomy organise and participate in various events around the globe dedicated to astronomy for these 100 hours. A special 24 hour-long webcast is going to be broadcasted that will take you on the tour around the world in 80 telescopes starting 9am UT today. It will include interviews of scientist at these facilities, their overview and some views of what one can see from these on-land and in-orbit telescopes. It starts in about 30 minutes so tune in fast!
There is a treasure-trove of information on the website (link above) for those interested so I recommend you have a look for yourself. You will find events in your area or information about how to organise one, projects you can participate in from anywhere in the world and also grants being awarded to promote the interest of general public in astronomy. So go out in the open and start observing those “twinkle twinkle little stars” that “up above the world so high” shine and glitter “like a diamond in the sky” and make you exclaim “how I wonder what you are!”