Explore the night sky – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Niels Bohr Institute > News > News 2009 > Explore the night sky

31 March 2009

Explore the night sky

Experience the Milky Way, see the deep craters of the Moon, study the planet Saturn with its fascinating rings and see nebulas and star clusters in the distant universe - from April 2nd-5th everyone can take part in events held at various locations including at Rådhuspladsen (The City Hall Square), in Køge, at Brorfelde and at the Steno Museum in Århus and look up at the night sky through large telescopes with their own eyes and listen to astronomers talk about the universe.

The events are a part of a 100 hour worldwide astronomy event in connection with the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

"Everyone can take part and one of the the main goals of the International Year of Astronomy is that as many people as possible explore the night sky using a telescope. It is a quite a different experience to stand and look at the night sky yourself than to look at glossy images", explains Kristian Pedersen, who is an astrophysicist at the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute and who is the National Coordinator in Denmark for the International Year of Astronomy.

2009 was declared the International Year of Astronomy by the UN to mark that it was 400 years ago that the Italian scientist Galileo Galileo aimed a telescope towards the sky and made ground-breaking discoveries, the first to do so. He saw, among other things, that there were craters on the Moon, that the planet Jupiter had moons orbiting it, and that the Milky Way's luminous belt was comprised of the light from thousands of stars.

Galilei's observations lead to a fundamental change in our understanding of the world: From finding ourselves on an Earth in the center of the universe - to now being the inhabitants of a little planet that orbits a random star on the edge of one out of a billion galaxies in a universe which began in a gigantic explosion, the Big Bang, more than 13 billion years ago.

Everyone can make the same observations as Galilei and experience it for themselves on April 2-5 when astronomical associations, planetariums and private amateur astonomers take small and large telescopes out to public places and open private observatories to the public.

Follow observations around the world
There are numerous activities taking place not just in Denmark, but over the entire globe. More than 1500 events in over 130 countries are expection to attract over 1 million people making the '100 Hours of Astronomy' the largest public astronomy event ever.

In addition to being able look at stars through telescopes, everyone on the internet can take a tour around to large and small telescopes in a 24-hour video webcast 'Around the World in 80 Telescopes' from 11:00 am on the 3rd of April to 11:00 am on the 4th of April. The tour follows the night's migration across the globe and goes via some of the most advanced observatories on the earth and in space: the Very Large Telescope, ESO, Chile and the Hubble Space Telescope. In this way one can see what astronomers the world round do during a typical observation night.