People all across the globe will look towards the sky in 2009, proclaimed the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations. Celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first glimpse of the heavens through his telescope, the goals of the project include increasing awareness of astronomy, sparking an interest in science in our youth, and providing a framework within which the citizens of the globe can peacefully unite. Not a bad mission, eh?
Although the San Francisco fog often obscures the night sky, don’t let that stop you from teaching your students about the contents of the universe — and how they too can observe the heavenly bodies with ease. I recommended the following websites as resources for curious educators. If you are new to astronomy, have no fear! IYA2009 is an educational outreach initiative to all peoples of all ages, so you’ll be sure to find activities simple enough to complete in your backyard.
IYA Discovery Guides: These teacher curriculum guides contain background content and hands-on activities related to the “Celestial Body of the Month.” While you visit the homepage of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, don’t overlook the activities accessible from the left margin!
NASA IYA Site: A clean, easy-to-browse site. Click GO OBSERVE! to learn what objects are prominent in the sky each month, dive into HOT TOPICS for extra information and stunning images, and browse through RESOURCES to find multimedia content.
Do you have a favorite resource? A tried-and-true lesson? Let us know!