Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Astronomers Invite Public to UA to 'Share the Stars' on Astronomy Day

University of Arizona News Release

2007 April 3

Tucson area astronomers who include world-famous comet hunter David H. Levy and his wife, Wendee, will host a public star party on the University of Arizona mall on Saturday, April 21 - National Astronomy Day.

The Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, UA's Flandrau Science Center and Tucson astronomy shops Starizona and Stellar Vision will provide telescopes free of charge from 3 p.m. - 10 p.m. Observers will see the sun (through safe filtered systems), the crescent moon, Saturn, double stars, distant galaxies and other celestial objects.

There is no charge, but the public is encouraged to make donations to benefit the National Sharing the Sky Foundation. The Levys founded this organization in 2006 because they are concerned that the United States is lagging behind other countries in science and engineering education - a lag reflected in U.S. students scoring below international averages in these disciplines.

Sharing the Sky aims to foster an appreciation for astronomy and related sciences particularly among American school children, Levy said.

"It is our hope that Sharing the Sky will be a vehicle for inspiring young people to reach for the stars," Levy said. The organization provides the Levys and other scientists organizational support for educational and outreach programs. These efforts include lecture presentations, Internet programs, guided activities that use remote telescopes, and donations of telescopes to schools and amateur astronomy groups.

Levy is known from his discoveries of 22 comets, most recently periodic comet P2006 T1, found last October and destined to pass close to Earth again in 2011. Levy's most famous discovery is Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994, an event unprecedented in recorded history.

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