International Year of Astronomy Celebration

Big Dipper over Tetons at Full Moon
photo by Bob Hoyle
June 12, 2009
This summer, Grand Teton National Park will join with the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. To mark this 2009 designation, Grand Teton and the local astronomy club will host several family-oriented programs, culminating with a special day of astronomy on August 16. The programs are designed to provide visitors and local residents with an opportunity to learn about star gazing, meteor showers, sunspots, star clusters, galaxies and much more.

The International Year of Astronomy proclaims to be modern astronomy’s quadricentennial, involving a world-wide celebration of numerous astronomical and scientific milestones. During 2009, events are planned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the skies, and Johannes Kepler’s publication of Astronomia Nova, among other notable achievements. Special programs offered at Grand Teton will provide opportunities for park visitors to gain a deeper insight into the role astronomy plays in the cultural history of people around the world.

Park Ranger Naturalist Bob Hoyle will give three evening programs focusing on American Indian mythology and the use of the sky and its celestial bodies in cultural history. Following each program—as a finale—large telescopes will be set up for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulas and other cosmic phenomena. Anyone planning to attend the evening programs and telescope observation sessions should dress warmly as evening temperatures in Grand Teton can be quite chilly, even during summer. Solar-filtered telescopes will also be available to view sunspots during a daytime event at Colter Bay Visitor Center on August 16, and exhibit tables will be set up, providing fun and interesting information for children and adults.

The 2009 Year of Astronomy schedule is:
June 20
Signal Mountain Amphitheater
9:30 p.m.

July 19
Gros Ventre Amphitheater
9:30 p.m.

August 16
Colter Bay Visitor Center
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Colter Bay Amphitheater
9:00 p.m.

To learn more about the International Year of Astronomy scheduled events, call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307.739.3594. For more information on the International Year of Astronomy or the International Astronomical Union, visit their Web site at