International Astronomy Day! This day takes place on May 7 and will be celebrated around the world. Many amateur astronomy clubs will be celebrating this day and for the following week, so for many clubs it will be Astronomy Week!
What is International Astronomy Day? International Astronomy Day (IAD) was launched by Douglas Berger in 1973.
At that time, Doug was president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California.
He initiated this day to interest city dwellers in astronomy. To do this, he began installing telescopes in public places so that people could use them to enjoy staring into space. The programs he started took place in city centers, mostly at night. However, IAD has really spread across the world, so now it’s celebrated around the world. Now, local astronomy clubs are setting up day and night telescopes for the public during that week.
Why install daytime telescopes? What is there to see? The sun, of course! Special Note: Many people know that it is very dangerous to look at the sun during the day without any filters or eye protection and they are right — you can easily burn your eyes and even blind yourself if you look at the sun naked. . eyes without adequate protection. Don’t do this!
So how can we look at the sun safely? Look at the sun through a telescope with a suitable and safe solar filter attached to the front of the telescope. This is done every day for solar observers and it allows for the careful study of the sun by many amateur astronomers who have devoted their observation to seeing and photographing the sun.
Mark May 7 on your calendar. It will be a Saturday so many will be free to attend a sun viewing equipped with a telescope that will have the proper safety equipment. This sun sighting will take place on the grounds of the Siloam Springs Public Library, starting around 7 a.m., although the actual sighting may start a little later as the sun needs to rise high enough to allow for a good viewing. At the same time, the Siloam Springs Farmers Market will be underway, right on the street sidewalk next to the library. It will be easy to find as one can easily see various vendors, lined up along the street, selling their wares.
I will be at that moment of solar viewing. I am a member of the Sugar Creek Astronomical Society and other members of the Society will also be attending this event. I will bring a telescope equipped with the necessary safety filters so that the sun can be seen without damage. This telescope allows safe observation of the sun in the same wavelengths as ordinary visual light. In addition, I will bring a special telescope that allows visual examination of the sun in the wavelength generated by excited and superheated hydrogen. When the sun is viewed in this wavelength, it appears as a bright red globe. If we are lucky we can see various solar details and processes which I will be happy to point out if such features appear. Of course, there is a caveat to this whole process. If it’s raining or there are clouds, we won’t see anything in the telescopes. Assuming the weather is good, I will also have free pamphlets, etc. available that describe the Sugar Creek Astronomical Society and its programs. If you have ever wanted to join an astronomy club, we can give you information on joining such a club.
Looking out to a wider area on May 7, there will also be a solar viewing in Diamond, Mo. This will take place at the George Washington National Monument with special activities for children. This presentation will take place from 1 to 4:30 p.m. On the evening of May 14, the SCAS will be offering a nighttime viewing session at Hobbs State Park. Start of activities at 7 p.m. Observation will begin after sunset, at 8:16 p.m. The moon will be the star object, but stars, constellations and star clusters will also be observed.
In May, if you rise just before dawn, you can see Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn lined up in the southeastern sky. Use binoculars to see better and if you have a telescope, good viewing!
The springtime constellation Leo the Lion will be overhead in May and June. Its head will look like an inverted question mark and its hindquarters will be a triangle of stars that most people can easily see, trailing about two finger widths, held at arm’s length, behind its head.
The month of May is full of good things to see and activities not to be missed. Keep watching the free show!
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— Dr. David Cater is a former JBU faculty member. Email him at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.