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News Updates » 22 October 2009


It’s raining... so what?

If you have a weather report for the next couple of days like the one we have in Portugal, you might be despairing right about now. “How can do my Galilean Nights activity, if all I have prepared is an observing night?

So the weather is bad… So what? There is still a lot of activities you might do. Just be inventive!

Back on January 1st, during the Dawn of IYA2009 activity, I was counting on a lot of european venues to report “no observation due to bad weather”, and on those places you could actually see the Sun, some “the Sun with no spots looked uninteresting to people”. What I didn’t count on was some of the reports I got, some of them despite the bad weather.

In Fundão (Portugal), Paulo Sanches gathered his family around his laptop and gave a little lecture about the Sun, with a small “observation” thanks to SOHO; in Scotland, Robin Baxter did a little IYA celebration for one; in New Zealand, Paul Moss took his family on a field trip, just to see the sunrise; in Cape Town (South Africa), Dr. Abdurrazak Ebrahim explained the movement of the shadow of a stick to his muslim audience.

Use your imagination!

Give a lecture about galilean objects. You can download presentations about the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn in the Galilean Nights webpage, and they are available in several languages.

Gather some friend in a bar or a coffee shop, and start a discussion about LCROSS, exoplanets and alien life… but start with Galileo’s first observation through his telescope. You can even try to pull other costumers into the conversation. It might be interesting to see what a complete strangers view on the subject is.

- Do you have a laptop handy? Great! Download free software like Stellarium or Celestia. Show people what they could have seen in the sky, and then take a virtual trip to Saturn.

- Are you just lazy, or for some reason can’t leave the house? No problem, you can still join us! Just log on to one of the several remote telescopes we have available and do your own observation. See what it feels like to go to a real observatory and point the telescope for yourself.

These are just a few examples. I’m sure there are many more alternatives, some much more original (like a “dinner on Mars”) than these. So roll-up your sleeves and have a great Galilean Nights.

Ricardo Cardoso Reis
Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto
Galilean Nights Task Group