Don't have any weekend plans? You do now! Join your local amateur astronomy community in celebrating Spring Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 29th.
Amateur astronomy clubs, planetariums, science museums, and parks celebrate Astronomy Day twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall. Astronomy Day dates back to 1973, when Doug Berger, then president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California, organized local volunteers to "bring astronomy to the people."
Forty-four years later, the day is celebrated across the United States, Canada, and in many countries around the world. Many types of institutions participate. Observatories often hold open houses, astronomy clubs host observing events (in the daytime as well as at night), and planetariums schedule special shows aimed at a general audience.
Sound interesting? If you don't already belong to an astronomy club and want to find a local club or planetarium hosting an event, check out our directory of clubs, observatories, planetariums, and science museums worldwide. Some groups run events on other dates that better suit their needs, so be sure to check their calendars for alternate dates. And, here are events listed on the Astronomical League site.
The way to really have fun at these things is to call beforehand and offer to volunteer. We know; we've done it!
When's the next one? Mark your calendar for Fall Astronomy Day, September 20, 2017. The 2018 dates are April 21st and October 13th.
To help groups and individuals plan Astronomy Day programs, the Astronomical League and Sky & Telescope partnered to write the Astronomy Day Handbook. Written by David H. Levy and updated by Gary Tomlinson, the 76-page guide offers suggestions for conducting large and small programs. It also includes the rules and entry forms for the Astronomy Day Award, a prize co-sponsored by Sky & Telescope, the American Astronomical Society, and the Astronomical League. The award is given annually to the groups whose programs do the best job of "Bringing Astronomy to the People."
Also available for printing and handing out is the Astronomical League's The ABCs of Stargazing sheet, which can help you explain the basics of our hobby to newcomers. And please distribute our Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting flyer, a simple information sheet on light pollution and how we can work together to minimize it.