International Year of Astronomy

I know, this has nothing to do with art, but, it's the weekend.

Astronomy is one of my big interests outside of painting. Deep down, I really wanted to be an astronomer, but after a handful of undergrad courses I got scared off by the math. So, it remains a passionate hobby. Though I'll never teach astronomy or do any serious research, I do get the opportunity to introduce people to it on a regular basis. Once a month I host an open observatory night in conjunction with a local college and the astronomy club I belong to. People of all ages come up to the observatory for a few hours, and we show them various objects, from the moon and planets in our own neighborhood to nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies far outside our own solar system. Many people who visit have never looked through a telescope before, and I get the privilege of introducing them to a little piece of our universe for the very first time... it's really cool...

This year is the 400th anniversary of Galileo first using a telescope to study the night sky, so 2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy. It's a great opportunity to learn a little more about this intriguing and constantly evolving subject. There is an endless number of online resources, but I thought I'd list just a few of my favorites:

AstronomyCast is just about my favorite podcast, period; it's extremely well-done, fun, and accessible.
Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) has a new image daily, and an archive going back into the far-distant past of the web; it's been in regular operation since 1995!
365 Days of Astronomy is another great podcast run as part of the International Year of Astronomy. It's a community-based project, with daily contributions from people as diverse as professional astronomers to amateur back-yard observers, each talking about what fascinates them about astronomy.

Also, most communities have some form of astronomy-related club or organization. Many of them hold regular meetings or events open to the public to introduce people to astronomy. An incomplete list can be found here. Anybody who's in the North Shore Boston area and is interested in visiting the open observatory I mentioned above can contact me for more information.

So, if you've always entertained a curiosity about this fascinating topic, why not learn more about it this year?