It’s that time of year again: It’s Astronomy Day! Join fellow enthusiasts on Saturday, May 11th, for a plethora of fun and exciting events in celebration of all things astronomical.
Twice a year the astronomical community congregates on what since 1973 has been known as Astronomy Day. That year, Doug Berger, then president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California, founded the event as a way of engaging local communities in the science and hobby of astronomy — he wanted to "bring astronomy to the people." What started as a one-day event in springtime has since flourished and is now not only celebrated all over the world but is also a biannual occurrence. (Promoted by the Astronomical League, Fall Astronomy Day was introduced in 2007).
Spring Astronomy Day is traditionally scheduled for a Saturday between mid-April and mid-May that is closest to or before the first-quarter Moon. This year’s Spring Astronomy Day will be celebrated on Saturday, May 11, when the Moon will be at exactly first quarter.
What can you expect?
To begin with, many science museums and planetariums host special programs and exhibits. If you live within driving distance of an observatory, see if they offer open houses to the general public. Local astronomy clubs participate by organizing star parties in the evening. But did you know you can also observe during the day? Many clubs will set up solar scopes — if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of sunspots or even prominences. (But remember, protect your eyes and don't ever look at the Sun directly.) Bear in mind that some clubs and associations may organize events on days other than Saturday to best suit their schedules. Remember to also check your local news outlets — your neighborhood park might have a fun program in store for you.
If you’re not a member of an astronomy club, browse through our directory to find one near you. You can also search for observatories, planetariums, and science museums. We’ve also listed a selection of events, aimed at all ages, at the bottom of this post. You don’t have to be an expert to participate — just head on out there, and remember, have fun! You’ll be with a whole bunch of other people who are as eager to learn and experience astronomy firsthand as you are.
What if you’re already busy this weekend and can’t participate? No problem, just mark your calendar for Fall Astronomy Day, which this year will be on October 5th.
Need Help Planning?
To help organizations and individuals plan programs, the Astronomical League and Sky & Telescope partnered to write the Astronomy Day Handbook. Written by David H. Levy and updated by Gary Tomlinson, the guide offers suggestions for conducting large and small programs. Also available for printing and handing out is the Astronomical League's The ABCs of Stargazing sheet, which can help you explain the basics of our hobby to newcomers. Consider distributing the Good Outdoor Neighbor Lighting flyer, an information sheet on light pollution and how we can work together to minimize it, at your event as well.
Astronomy Day Events
Alaska International Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., Anchorage Museum, 625 C Street, Anchorage
Arizona Sedona National Astronomy Day, Sunday, May 12, 2019, 3:00–10:00 p.m., Sedona Bashas Shopping Center, Hwy 89a / Coffeepot Rd, Sedona
Arkansas Central Arkansas Astronomical Society National Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 2:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m., Visitor Center, Pinnacle Mountain State Park
California California Academy of Sciences Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., Golden Gate Park, CalAcademy Piazza
Colorado Western Colorado Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 4:00–10:00 p.m., Mesa County Central Library, 443 N. 6th Street, Grand Junction
Connecticut The Children’s Museum Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., The Children's Museum, West Hartford
Illinois Astronomy Day at Harper College, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 5:30–9:30 p.m., Harper College, Algonquin Road Building Z, Palatine
Kentucky West Kentucky Amateur Astronomers Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m, Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory, Land Between The Lakes
Louisiana Highland Road Park Observatory, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 3:00–11:00 p.m., Baton Rouge (binoculars recommended after 7:30 p.m.)
Louisiana Louisiana Art & Science Museum National Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00–5:00 p.m., 100 River Road South, Baton Rouge
Massachusetts, Springfield Museums Annual Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., 21 Edwards Street, Springfield
New Mexico Rio Rancho Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 6:00 p.m., Rainbow Park Observatory, 301 Southern Blvd SE, Rio Rancho
New York National Astronomy and Lunar Engagement Day Celebration, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Museum of Innovation and Science, 15 Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady
Pennsylvania Astronomy Day at the North Museum, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., North Museum of Nature and Science, 400 College Avenue, Lancaster
Utah Southern Utah’s Amazing Earthfest 2019 Moon & Star Party, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:00–11:00 p.m., Zion Mountain Ranch, UT Hwy 9, Mount Carmel
Virginia Northern Virginia Astronomy Day Celebration, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 3:00–11:00 p.m., C. M. Crockett Park, 10066 Rogues Road, Midland
British Columbia Simon Fraser University’s Rendezvous and International Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., SFU’s Burnaby Mountain Campus, Burnaby
Ontario Peterborough Astronomical Association Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 21, 2019, 12:00.–4:00 p.m.; 8:30 p.m.–12:00 a.m., Riverview Park and Zoo (daytime) / Armour Hill (evening observing), Peterborough
Ontario Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Toronto Centre International Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m., Ontario Science Centre, Toronto
Quebec Club d’Astronomie de Dorval/Astronomy Club of Dorval International Astronomy Day, Saturday, May 11 (Samedi 11 mai) 2019, 3:00 p.m.–11:00 p.m. approximately (de 15h–23h environ), Dorval