International Year of Astronomy: January 10, 2009 Kickoff Event
The temperature was in the single digits, but that didn't stop approximately 200 people from venturing outdoors to visit the Manfred Olson Planetarium on January 10th for its official International Year of Astronomy Kickoff Event! Announced by the International Astronomical Union, the United Nations, and UNESCO as the International Year of Astronomy, 2009 marks the 400-year anniversary of Galileo looking up at the stars through a telescope. To celebrate the beginning of a year which brings with it anticipation of several spectacular events, the planetarium hosted a free kickoff event on Saturday, January 10th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. "Winter Skies," a 20-minute planetarium show given at 6:30, 7:00, and 7:30 pm gave audience members the opportunity to learn about key winter constellations like Orion and the Winter Hexagon, as well as how to find them in the night sky. As the shows were packed to full capacity, our halls brimmed with visitors eagerly (and patiently!) waiting in line as they sipped on complimentary hot cider and cocoa.
The success of our first special event of the year fills us with great expectations for upcoming events. All events will intend to achieve two of the International Year of Astronomy's main initiatives-elicit excitement and interest for astronomy as well as broaden general understanding of key astronomical concepts. Phenomenal advances have been made in astronomy since Galileo's time, but the wonder and curiosity with which he first explored the universe through a telescope is timeless. Keep your eyes and ears open for more news as the year unfolds!
Photographs by Jason Chandler.