Saturday, January 3, 2009

2009: International Year of Astronomy

2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy by the United Nations General Assembly. And I'm not sure they could have picked a better year for the designation.

During 2009, a space shuttle mission will be launched to make repairs and upgrades to the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the greatest scientific and technical feats we've achieved. Not only will these upgrades replace some failed systems, but newer and better instruments will be added to the orbiting observatory, meaning that over the next several years (until it is de-orbited in a fiery mass) Hubble will be more powerful than it has ever been before. And we've all seen what it could do before!

Not only that, but the Kepler mission will finally launch this year and, while it is unlikely to find many planets its first year, its discoveries will excite the imaginations of a great many people.

And the year has started off with some great night skies showing the moon and Venus, Jupiter, and the vastness of stars in the Milky Way. CNN also has a collection of great astronomy photos in their Space Spotlight.

Go out when you get a chance, preferably with a telescope, and take a good look at the sky. Consider the vastness of it all, and wonder why it's there, if not so we can go see it, explore it, touch it.

No comments: