We are excited to bring you a virtual edition of Astronomy Day this year! Astronomy day was first observed in 1973 in an event organized by Doug Berger, at that time the president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California. It was envisioned as a way to bring astronomy “to the people,” eliminating what might otherwise be a long trip to a remote observatory site.
The idea soon spread throughout the country. People gathered at malls and parks as well as museums, libraries, and nature centers to look through telescopes and learn about astronomy from scientists and amateur astronomers. Today the event is coordinated by the Astronomical League and occurs near a quarter moon in April or May and again in September or October. These dates are chosen near the quarter moon because the moon is visible in the afternoons near that phase.
We’ve been celebrating the spring edition of astronomy Day at the Museums for about 15 years. With the generous help of the Springfield STARS Club, we often observe sunspots when they are available, and sometimes the moon when they are not. In recent years, we’ve had lectures by invited guests, facilitated visitor interactions with a number of supporting organizations, and provided a host of fun family activities all over the Museums’ Quadrangle (known locally also as “the people’s college”). Though this year our celebrations have moved online, we will continue to bring astronomy “to the people” and invite all to participate in our celebration of Astronomy Day 2020, this Saturday, May 2nd. Our website features videos and blogs as well as content from the International Dark Sky Association and Sky and Telescope Magazine. We hope you enjoy these and get out to see the night sky soon!