Friday, March 20, 2009

Around the World in 80 Telescopes

Have I mentioned that it is the International Year of Astronomy? Oh yeah, about 1,000 times.

There is some seriously cool IYA stuff coming just around the corner. April 2 - 5 is the 100 Hours of Astronomy event, a four day, round-the-world star party. Click on the link and find a star party near you. Then go out and look through some telescopes. Its just that easy.

Embedded within the 100HA event is Around the World in 80 Telescopes. It is a 24-hour live webcast event that will take place from the control rooms of research telescopes located around the globe. Included in the mix will be . . . . . you guessed it . . . . Palomar Observatory.

Most people have no idea what happens during the night at a research observatory. The expectation is that astronomers are looking through telescopes – a concept that is 100 years out of date. The Around the World in 80 Telescopes event will give people an inside look to what really happens by letting them take their own trip to observatories located across the globe (and in space too).

Scheduled to participate are observatories in 15 countries—spanning every continent (including Antarctica), and 11 observatories located in space.

The final stop in this around-the-world tour of observatories will be Palomar Observatory, run by the California Institute of Technology. I will be hosting Palomar's segment and along with the astronomers using Palomar’s 200-inch Hale Telescope that night we will be answering questions and explaining the research underway that night.

Palomar Observatory’s participation in the event is only possible through its high-speed data connection provided by the High-Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN). HPWREN provides 155 megabits per second (OC-3 capacity) terrestrial microwave links that network Palomar Observatory to the rest of the world. This high-speed connectivity is essential for current and future research programs at Palomar, but it also provides the necessary bandwidth to allow for this and other live broadcasts to take place from the observatory.

The live webcast will begin on 3 April 2009 at 02:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (09:00 UT) with the telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, before moving westwards around the planet. The event ends on 4 April 2009, 02:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time (09:00 UT). Palomar Observatory’s portion of the event is scheduled to begin at 1:40 a.m. PDT on April 4th. The live video webcast will be available on the 100 Hours of Astronomy website at

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