As a little girl, I yearned to know what invisible worlds existed beyond what my human eyes could see. Are Martians really green like those on TV or do they look just like me but have super powers? While I've still no answers, telescopes offer the ability to see a bit more than my own limited vision. We have Galileo to thank for this.
This year we celebrate 2009: International Year of Astronomy—a commemoration of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the skies 400 years ago, the birth of modern astronomy. This is a global endeavor sponsored by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The purpose and vision of the International Year of Astronomy is “to help people rediscover their place in the Universe through the sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. Everyone should realise the impact of astronomy and other fundamental sciences on our daily lives, and understand how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society" (UNESCO).
If there is an observatory or university near you, there may be programs slated to honor astronomy you could attend. A list of observatories around the world may be found here.
At our house, we have a computerized Meade telescope that brings the wonders in the sky a bit closer for us to see.
Each month you can download a free map of the evening sky and calendar so you don’t miss any celestial happenings. Visit Skymaps to find the applicable free map for your hemisphere, be it northern or southern.