Astronomy Day Planning Tips

2004 THEME:

Transit of Venus

Astronomy Day Headquarters:
Gary Tomlinson
Astronomy Day Headquarters
30 Stargazer Lane
Comstock Park MI 49321
(616) 784-9518


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The following ideas, suggestions and tips are meant to supplement information contained in the latest edition of the Astronomy Day Handbook or are specific to the upcoming Astronomy Day. Any ideas you may have in addition to those in the Astronomy Day Handbook or listed here should be sent to the Astronomy Day Coordinator (above):

Be sure to register your Astronomy Day events each year on this web site so others (including the media) can find out where Astronomy Day events are taking place. Go to the Add update page

Enter the Astronomy Day Contest and win a $250 gift certificate from Sky Publishing. Click here for new rules, guidelines and the new entry form (Adobe Acrobat Document).

Educational resources from the Transit of Venus program include a DVD video which can be viewed as a stand-alone tutorial or as a planetarium program; a data CD with over 200 transit-related images, including rare photographs from global expeditions ; an audio CD with the Transit of Venus March by John Philip Sousa and lesson plans to the music of AstroCapella; and a slide set excerpted from the DVD. Details and ordering forms are at

Visit for an extensive collection of online transit of Venus resources. Original material and annotated links include educational resources, historical observations and global expeditions, viewing safety, the math and science of transits, the "black drop" effect, social issues, transit of Venus music, and the role of spacecraft and the search for habitable planets. It's got it all.

ASTRONOMY magazine joins forces with Meade Instruments Corporation and world-renowned observatories and planetaria to celebrate this year's Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 24.Organizations participating in this unique and exciting collaboration include:

  • Rose Center for Earth and Space - Hayden Planetarium in New York City
  • Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago
  • Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium in Miami, Florida
  • Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California
  • AstroDay 2K4 at the Prince Kuhio Plaza, Hilo, Hawaii

Experts at these venues will entertain and engage visitors with an array of hands-on activities, demonstrations, presentations, telescope observing, and more. These activities will showcase the visually stunning and mind-boggling events of deep space. For more information go to


The Abrams Sky Calendar available for Astronomy Day activities. Anyone celebrating the event is welcome to distribute any number of copies of the Sky Calendar with no restrictions, other than we ask that material not be deleted. . You can download both pdf's from our Sky Calendar web page at Scroll down the page and
click on Sample Sky Calendar or Sample Sky Map.

Among the assortment of interesting sky events depicted on the calendar,
there are several diagrams illustrating the total lunar eclipse of May
15th. With the eclipse occurring just 5 days after Astronomy Day, the
calendar can serve as a reminder to your Astronomy Day visitors to look
at the eclipse and, we all hope, become hooked on sky watching.

The International Dark Sky Association (IDA) has some wonderful information at their web site: Use astronomy day to promote reduction in light pollution. The IDA is promoting an international day sky week ( unfortunately it is april 1-april 8, 2003 and is already over by astronomy day. none-the-less, all the information is still valid.

Sun-Earth Day. NASA has produced some wonderful astronomical materials that might be useful for astronomy day. Check out their web sit it was just a couple of years ago that astronomy day help launch sun earth day

Astronomy magazine has some free materials for use with astronomy day. Check out their web site for helpful suggestions and ordering information.

Sky Publishing has produced a wonderful full color 11 by 17 inch poster to help you advertise your local events (you just add local information) FREE. Astronomy Day sites are limited to 5 copies. In addition, Sky Publishing will send you (upon request) the following:

  • "The Astronomy Day Handbook"
  • The newly revised "How to Start Right in Astronomy" (multiple copies for distribution)
  • A one page flyer, "Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting" (limit one, but you may reproduce.)
To order, write to:
Astronomy Day Information
Sky Publishing
49 Bay State Road
Cambridge, MA 02138
phone: 800-253-0245]

Looking for some kids activities? Print out the following coloring book/activity pages and duplicate them for you Astronomy Day event. Press your browser's Back button to return here after printing each page.

Solar System Mobile

Looking for a Starlab (the portable, inflatable planetarium) in your area to use on Astronomy Day? Learning Technology (the manufacturer of Starlab) has agreed to search their customer date base to locate a Starlab owner in your area. Contact:

Jane Sadler
Learning Technologies
40 Cameron Avenue
Somerville, MA

Lick Observatory has granted any Astronomy Day site permission to use Lick Observatory photographs in promoting Astronomy Day. You MUST however credit each photo used as "Lick Observatory Photograph." To obtain a catalog of Lick photographs, write to:  

Lick Observatory
University of California
Santa Cruz CA 95064

You still must purchase the photograph you are interested in using. Lick Observatory would appreciate a copy of anything containing their photograph

The Astronomical League has made arrangements for member society to purchase liability insurance at somewhat reasonable prices. If your society is a member of the League, contact the Executive Secretary to obtain details. Many shopping malls require liability insurance before they will let you do any type of display or program in their mall.

How to handle the public: A good article for Astronomy Day sites to read is "A Lesson from Hollywood" by Bob Berman in the October 1997 issue of Astronomy magazine.

Birthday Stars: Showing a person a star that is the same number of light years away as that person is old would not only have more meaning to the person but would also educate people that space is three dimensional. The problem, of course, is to find naked-eye stars that are visible early on Astronomy Day. The following list is for the Northern Hemisphere (my apologies to the Southern Hemisphere-if anybody wants to do one for the Southern Hemisphere, e-mail me at ) and is, of course missing several "years." Just pick out the closest one to the persons age. (If anyone tries this, e-mail me and let me know if it was successful.) Note that the list contains only fairly bright (greater than magnitude 2.6) stars.

"Birthday" Stars
Star Name Apparent
11 Alpha Canis Minor (Procyon) +0.4
26 Alpha Lyra (Vega) +0.0
35 Beta Gemini (Pollux) +1.2
36 Alpha Bootes (Arcturus) -0.1
42 Beta Leo (Denebola) +2.1
46 Beta Cassiopeia (Caph) +2.3
46 Alpha Auriga (Capella) +0.1
46 Alpha Gemini (Castor) +1.6
49 Alpha Cephus (Alderamin) +2.4
55 Alpha Ophiuchus (Ras-Alhague) +2.1
69 Eta Ophiuchus (Sabik) +2.4
72 Alpha Corona Borealis (Alphecca) +2.4
75 Beta Ursa Major (Merak) +2.4
75 Delta Leo (Zosma) +2.6
82 Epsilon Ursa Major (Alioth) +1.8
85 Beta Auriga (Menkalinan) +1.9
85 Alpha Leo (Regulus) +1.3
85 Zeta Ursa Major (Mizar) +2.1

Note: Greek designations were combined with the constellation name (not the genitive name) to identify the above stars. Common names are in parentheses.

More Information...

Get the latest Astronomy Day Handbook from Sky and Telescope.

Send an Astronomy Day Activity update to the Astronomical League.

Astronomical League National Headquarters
9201 Ward Parkway; Suite 100
Kansas City, MO  64114


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