As I’m sure we all remember, International Astronomy Day this year was April 28, and I’ve been hearing from lots of clubs about how they spent this special day as part of Astronomy’s Discover the Universe program. I especially enjoyed hearing from Jim Thompson of the Ottawa Valley Astronomy & Observer’s Group about its event, the group’s second with the program.
Despite the cold temperatures and wind in the morning, our group’s members began showing up around 5 a.m. to start setting up their telescopes and displays. By 11 a.m., when the event officially kicked off, 25 scopes and 20 warmly dressed members stood ready to receive the public. As the day progressed, the clear skies brought even more attendees and members with equipment, and by nightfall more than 40 scopes were on display with at least 40 OAOG members present.
We had record numbers participate in the day’s events — we think about 3,000 people passed through by the time we started packing up at 11 p.m. People of all ages and backgrounds came out; some even had binoculars and star charts with them, ready to observe the skies with us. Our event was also broadcast live on NightSkiesNetwork.com, allowing people from all over the world to participate. Attendees had a wide assortment of telescopes to observe through, and a broad range of member experience to learn from. We also had plenty of free handouts, including material graciously provided by Astronomy magazine, the local Ottawa Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Chapter, and individual OAOG members. We even ordered bulk solar eclipse glasses to hand out free of charge, in preparation for the June Venus transit.
Fantastic indeed — congratulations to the OAOG for another successful Astronomy Day! As usual, we’re just happy we could play a role in helping you share the beauty and joy of astronomy with the public. If you want to know how Astronomy magazine’s Discover the Universe program can help your club, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.