A Year-Long Commemoration

Galileo Galilei

Portrait of Galileo Galilei by Giusto Sustermans. Image courtesy of wikipedia.com.

The Yale University Department of Astronomy is excited to participate in the International Year of Astronomy 2009, a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe.

The International Year of Astronomy marks the four hundredth anniversary of the first astronomical observation through a telescope by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. Universities, science centers and museums around the world are commemorating Galileo's discoveries with a range of programs and special events throughout the year.

At Yale, we have arranged a series of talks, movies, exhibitions, concerts, and other events so that the Yale and greater New Haven communities may join the world in experiencing and celebrating astronomy. Please see below for a full listing of events, and check back often for updates, as events will continue to be added!


Nov. 3: Author and educator Bob Crelin invites you to join him for an exciting discussion about our Moon's ever-changing phases. Learn about why we see these changes and how you can witness the Moon's monthly orbit around Earth by observing the observing the changes in its daily – or nightly – appearance. Bob will also sign copies of his new children's book, Faces of the Moon, available at this event. 7 p.m., Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium.

Nov. 19: Join David Rabinowitz for a talk entitled “Weird Solar Systems.” David is the co-discoverer of Sedna and other dwarf planets in the outer solar system as well as near-Earth asteroids and Kuiper belt objects. He will discuss the origin of the planets, comets and asteroids in our own and other solar systems. 5 p.m., Peabody Museum of Natural History.


Dec. 1: “The Evolving Universe” with Dr. Pieter van Dokkum. Part of the "In the Company of Scholars" series. 4 p.m., Rm. 119, Hall of Graduate Studies, 320 York St.

Dec. 4: Movie night at the planetarium, “The Core.” This movie is so bad it’s good! An intrepid team of scientists journeys to the center of the Earth to restart the core using nuclear weapons. Planetarium Director Michael Faison will give a short presentation before the show on the magnetic fields of planets. Then join him in debunking the film’s bad science, which suggests that birds navigate using the Earth's magnetic field (true), that the magnetic field of the Earth is related to its inner core (true), that the magnetic field protects us from solar radiation (basically true), and that microwaves from the Sun could fry entire cities if the Earth's magnetic field faded (not really true). We'll also talk about the real variations in the Earth’s magnetic field happening now and what this might really mean for life on our planet. 7 p.m., Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium.

Dec. 15 & 22: "Celebrate the Solstice," special talk and planetarium show about the significance of the Winter Solstice and the holidays. 6 p.m., Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium.

ongoing events

Planetarium Shows and Public Observing
Tuesdays, 7 p.m. & 8 p.m.; public observing at 9 p.m.
Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium

Public Lecture Series
Yale astronomers discuss the hottest topics of the day
First Tuesday of every month
Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium

Podcasts on iTunes

Mapping Dark Matter: What it Tells Us About the Universe

Discovery of the Biggest "Small" Black Hole

"Cosmic Ghost" Discovered by Volunteer Astronomer

The Mysteries of Dark Energy

Web Users Write 'Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxies'