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100 Hours of Astronomy

100 hours of AstronomyThe 100 Hours of Astronomy project (100HA) is a worldwide event with a wide range of public outreach activities including live webcasts, observing events and more taking place during a 100-hour period in early April. One of the key goals of 100HA is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago.

The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will co-sponsor simultaneous 100HA events on both April 3rd and 4th with the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and Kingman Museum of Battle Creek as part of the International Astronomical Union’s “100 Hours of Astronomy” celebration by inviting the public to take a closer look at what’s up there — way, way, way up there. This event takes place just when the Moon goes from First Quarter to Waxing Gibbous, good phases for early evening observing. Saturn will be the other highlight of early evening observing events.

Using much more sophisticated and technical equipment than Galileo had in 1609, society members and museum staff will point their telescopes to provide views of the moon, the vast plains called Maria, chains of mountains and craters. Further east, the planet Saturn will come into focus, revealing the rings that remained a mystery to Galileo.

Eric Schreur, the museum’s planetarium coordinator, said the free stargazing will begin at 8 p.m. on both that Friday and Saturday, and continue until people’s eyes grow tired of the celestial sights.

The concept of “100 Hours of Astronomy” is derived from the fact that, beginning on the evening of April 2, backyard stargazers around the world will set up their telescopes to give public audiences the chance to look up close and personal skyward.

As the earth turns into its shadow, observers in different cities will keep a continuous watch on the night sky until four days have elapsed. Major observatories around the world will participate by streaming webcasts to audiences in distant cities.

Throughout the four-day period, somewhere around the earth a telescope will be aimed into the night sky.

Another IYA goal is to have millions of people viewing the night sky through telescopes of their own.

Some people have telescopes buried in a closet or garage. The Telescope Amnesty Program invites people to bring them to IYA events, including those at the museum, where experienced stargazers can demonstrate how to set them up, or tune them for better performance.