In April 2010, Astronomers Without Borders created Global Astronomy Month (GAM) to continue the excitement of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).  GAM 2010 was a good start, and we anticipated having more programs and partners for this year’s second edition.  But what we ended up with – in participants, programs and partners – far exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

The force behind this activity is easy to identify – the enthusiasm of people around the world for astronomy, in every country and culture.  IYA2009 showed what can be accomplished when this enthusiasm is harnessed.  GAM, like IYA2009, provides a broad platform where innovative programs can find a home.  It’s a stage where everyone can join in.

That collaboration between different groups and fields is a large part of what Astronomers Without Borders brings to the world of astronomy throughout the year.  Professional, amateur and governmental organizations work together to complement each others’ efforts rather than working on similar but separate programs.  Everyone benefits.

GAM 2011 would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors.  These forward-looking companies have all been supporters of Astronomers Without Borders.

Media Sponsor Sky and Telescope Magazine did a great job of helping to spread the word about GAM throughout the amateur community and driving traffic to the GAM web site where people could learn more and get involved.

Major Sponsors provided the support necessary to manage all the GAM 2011 programs.

  • Oceanside Photo and Telescope (OPT), a regular sponsor of AWB’s The World at Night, continued its support of AWB by sponsoring GAM 2011 as well.
  • Explore Scientific, also a regular supporter of AWB throughout the year, supported coordination efforts and made a big push to publicize GAM 2011.

Woodland Hills Camera and Telescopes, a long-time supporter that helps with AWB projects throughout the year, also provided support for GAM 2011.

Organizational partners helped create programs for everyone to enjoy.  These are true partnerships, with AWB providing infrastructure and global networking and our partners organizing the programs.  These included the Virtual Telescope of  Gianluca Masi, the Galileo Teacher Training Program chaired by Rosa Doran who also coordinated the GAM lunar programs, Globe at Night run by Connie Walker ran the GAM dark skies awareness programs, and StarPeace which ran 30 Nights of StarPeace throughout April.

A few programs of the programs held by others in celebration include Bareket Observatory with support from NASA Digital Learning Network and Adler Planetarium, the European Space Agency, Observe With NASA in conjunction with the MicroObservatory network of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and more.  Some programs had support from the International Astronomical Union or UNESCO.  Clearly, there’s plenty of interest in the platform GAM provides!

But most important to GAM 2011’s great success are the tens of thousands of amateur astronomers and educators who participate and plan local events for the public in dozens of countries around the world.  Without that participation, no program could be considered a success.  It is this grassroots effort that encourages the large organizations to take part in GAM, not the other way around.  GAM is a truly universal effort that includes everyone – and needs everyone’s participation to really work.

It is this passion for astronomy and the drive to share the Universe with others that fuels all Astronomers Without Borders programs.  I and the many others who organize these programs are honored to be a part of this important movement to bring science to everyone and connect us all through our common passion for the study of our Earth’s environment in space.

In the weeks and months to come, Astronomers Without Borders will announce programs that will continue beyond GAM, and new programs in development.  GAM is a time for everyone to come together to showcase programs, celebrate astronomy and reach out to the public, but the end of April certainly does not bring an end to the activities.  There is a great deal happening throughout the year.  And we have to start thinking about GAM 2012 much sooner now that it has become such an important project.

I want to especially appeal to all of you to support Astronomers Without Borders in whatever way you prefer.  Take part in programs, share them with your friends and bring in your own ideas.  For those who can, I appeal to you to support Astronomers Without Borders financially as well as we begin a fund-raising campaign to continue existing programs and organize new ones.  There is so much that can be done – as you have all shown throughout the past month – and I hope you will continue to help us bring new, innovative and successful programs to the world of astronomy.  The opportunities are practically unlimited but, unfortunately, our resources are not.

So join Astronomers Without Borders, watch for ways you can help, and together we will continue to have a real impact on society through our activities.  Sharing the same sky as One People, One Sky.



Blogger: Mike Simmons is the Founder and President of Astronomers Without Borders and was co-chair of the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project of IYA2009.


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