It's hard to believe that we are past the halfway point in our Global Astronomy Month celebrations - we've had many highly successful events but there is so much more in store.
Grabbing all the headlines this past week was the eye-catching total lunar eclipse - the first for the Western Hemisphere in more than two years. GAM partner The Virtual Telescope Project and astrophysicist Dr. Gianluca Masi hosted online LIVE coverage of the lunar disappearing act with views from various locations across the North American continent beamed to the world.
The webcast was wildly successful with over 80,000 individual viewers tuning in from over 170 countries.
Not to be outdone the Red Planet, Mars also shined brightly near the blood Moon on April 15, making for a stunning pair of cosmic ruddy beacons. What a coincidence to have Mars, the very same night as the lunar eclipse, at its closest approach to Earth in six years - at 92 million kilometers (57 million miles) away.
As part of the celebrations space enthusiasts, have been participating in a unique fundraising effort - the called the Mars crater Naming Project. While the publicly named craters are not claiming to be official in any way and are used only on space-startup Uwingu's own maps, the money raised goes directly towards providing financial support for research scientists, educators and outreach organizations. More info here.
Thanks to Uwingu's support, for every crater you name within AWB's own province on Mars, a portion of the fees go directly to AWB. Name your crater here.
Also popular this month was a unique live audio-visual performance, OPTICKS, between the Earth and the Moon courtesy of audio visual artists and radio telescope operators. After a callout for images was sent out through social media, the public sent in their photos that would be radio beamed to the Moon, bounced back and reconstructed as an image.
It was amazing to think that each photo travelled some 800,000 km return trip in less than 3 seconds travelling at the speed of light. These moon bounced images were showcased in real time as they returned from the Moon and were then printed and mailed back as postcards to the people who submitted them. Adding to the 'cool-factor' of the event, the returning images, like the one here of two people enjoying a sunset on a beach, appeared staticky due to the radio beams bouncing off rough lunar terrain. Watch the archived event on the AWB Google+ Channel.
Looking forward, join us as we take a great journey in the sky courtesy of large robotic telescope and guide Dr. Masi who will take web audience to very distant objects, from the Solar System to the borders of space and time. An online, remote observing event hosted by The Virtual Telescope Project. Participation is easy. Simply watch live on 20 April, 2014, 20:30 UT @ The Virtual Telescope's WebTV.
Then explore the current challenges light pollution poses for astronomy and the environment. On April 21, 2014 @ 22:00 UT join us for a Google Hangout: Dark Skies and AstroArts where we will discuss the loss of the night sky with both scientists and artists who are all working to raise awareness of these issues.
Finally, let's not forget the closest and most important star in our skies - the Sun. Tune-in on Sunday, April 27 at 19:00 UT to our special online event SunDay. AWB President and founder Mike Simmons will be giving a special behind-the-scenes tour of one of the world's most historical solar observatories, the Snow Solar Telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory in California, USA.
If you and your organization are celebrating GAM2014 with us then please make sure to register your event with AWB online. And don't forget to come back afterwards and share your success with the world by filing out your event reports and posting your photos on our social media feeds including on Facebook and Twitter and make sure to include #GAM2014 in your posts. You'll also be able to create and download participation certificates for all your registered events.
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