August 25, 2009

400 Years of Astronomical Outreach

Today marks a very important anniversary for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. As you may know, the International Year of Astronomy 2009 is being celebrated to promote astronomy on the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first observations of the sky with a telescope and the publication of Kepler's Astronomica Nova.

On August 25, 1609, Galileo conducted what is now considered the first astronomical outreach activity. He invited the Venetian Republic's lawmakers and policy makers to the St. Mark's Square bell tower, and showed off his simple but revolutionary telescope design. The telescope only gave a magnification of eight times, but that ability was still very invaluable. The visitors marveled at what the telescope allowed them to see, and rewarded Galileo with a life tenure at the University of Padua and a double in his salary (making him become one of the highest paid at the university).

The astronomical outreach event was a very important event for astronomy. Not only did Galileo promote the telescope's technology, but astronomy as well. In the same way, astronomical outreach events today help promote astronomy to the public, and this is one of the goals of the International Year of Astronomy.

Additionally, Google has made a Google Doodle for their homepage to honor today's important anniversary.

More information is available at the International Year of Astronomy 2009's website, while a film, 400 Years of the Telescope, details Galileo's telescope among other astronomical topics in a wonderful documentary.

Image (Galileo): IYA2009; Image (Google Doodle): Google

Astronomy and Space Celebrates International Year of Astronomy 2009.

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