After a month long non-stop roller costar ride of astronomy in all kinds of format, we have come to the last day of GAM2011. Before I go on about how great it has been, what’s going to happened next, what to expect next year. Let’s take a little breather (I know I do want one after a busy month) and see how it all came together as “Global Astronomy Month”.

Sometime after the astronomical size event; 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) during International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), the Sidewalk Astronomers guru and International Sidewalk Astronomy Night (ISAN) founder, Donna Smith and Mike Simmons; founder/president of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), both were discussing (probably secretly) a follow-up event for 100HA. The idea was to have something similar to 100HA for people around the globe join in.

Just after the IYA2009 event; Galilean Nights, the idea of continuing something similar to 100HA was first presented to AWB email group (finally the secret revealed) which has some key players in astronomy outreach worldwide. As you probably imagined, various ideas poured in from having something from couple of days, weeks to a month, including what should we call the event as. During these days we had no idea what kind of monster (a good one, not the kind you hear in books and see in movies) we are giving birth to. The discussions went on while we all were busy with AWB and other IYA2009 programs.

The first proper planning actually began somewhere in late January 2010 and I jumped in as the coordinator (of course without knowing what I was getting into), then finalized “Global Astronomy Month”. Having only three months for organizing, the GAM Working Group along with many other AWB people and groups did a fabulous job to bring GAM2010 together; it was a great team work.

With the success of GAM2010, the planning for GAM2011 began in early as October 2010, hoping to get a good start and to make it bigger and better than the previous (oh well, now we know we need to start planning way ahead of that for GAM2012, you will know why, keep reading).


Image credit: Petr Horalek


GAM2010 had 18 members in the core Working Group to organize the whole program which had about 10 global programs throughout the month. In GAM2011, we have about 21 member core Working Group with each person working on their field of expertise for GAM with a team of people with similar interests. This created more than 40 global programs expanding throughout the month. Generated various collaborations with other organizations, including NASA and ESA. The programs covered different aspects too; from Dark Skies Awareness, Observing programs, Online events, competitions and even to Astropoetry, Astro-art, cultural stories and AstroMusic (Cosmic Concert). We also had programs for people with disabilities which was a collaboration with NASA. Not forgetting the Moonbounce efforts. GAM logo went to the moon and back, not just once, but twice! Then there was the month long event promoting peace during GAM – 30 Nights of StarPeace – which was very successful this year.

So, the GAM2011, now what?

Definitely you don’t have to wait till GAM2012 for another online remote observing event or to submit your astropoetry or to join a global sidewalk astronomy event. All these and plenty more programs will be happening monthly at AWB. Some of the GAM2011 efforts such as; programs for people with disabilities, Planetarium programs will continue as regular AWB programs. And yes, these programs are free and open to anyone to join. Get your group registered at AWB and subscribe to our mailing list to keep updated on upcoming programs. Mean while you can check the list of programs organized by AWB at our website (under Projects).

As GAM2011 comes to an end, I want to thank each and every person who helped to organize and participated. The beauty of GAM is that it’s actually an effort by people for people. A global platform to come together, join programs and to bring yours.

The success of GAM2011 shows the potential of the program for coming years – meaning, we have already planned to start working on as soon as GAM2011 evaluating period finishes. You can expect some exciting programs to look forward next year. Of course we welcome ideas and collaborations, feel free to get in touch with us.

See you all again at GAM2012 and in between with AWB programs.

Clear Skies!



Thilina Heenatigala is an informal astronomy educator from Colombo, Sri Lanka; working as a freelance project organiser. He coordinated the Global Astronomy Month in 2010 and 2011 and serves as the Project Coordinator for Astronomers Without Borders.
More on his projects involved and affiliations can be found at his blog; Universe Cafe or at the LinkedIn profile. Follow him on Twitter @ThilinaH or Facebook to keep updated on latest Astronomy Outreach efforts.