Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to the International Year of Astronomy! This year is dedicated to celebrating the beauty and wonder of our universe and appreciating the benefits and knowledge that come from astronomy and space exploration. What better way for bibliophiles to participate than with a reading challenge?
Our species has always been fascinated by celestial bodies so there is no shortage of reading material for this challenge. To keep it simple I’ve divided astronomical literature into three categories—History & Astronomers, Cosmology & Astrophysics, and Sci-Fi—and your mission will be to read one book from each group. I’ve gathered some possible titles on my Astronomy Reading Challenge resource page, and suggestions are welcome, especially for astronomy-oriented Sci-Fi.
But this challenge is about more than just reading. I’ve added two field trips—extra-vehicular activities, if you will. The first is to do a little informed stargazing with the help of a field guide. You don’t need a telescope—there is plenty to see with he naked eye or plain binoculars. You may choose to observe a particular event, such as a meteor shower or lunar eclipse. There is a calendar of astronomical events here which tells us that we won’t have long to wait—there is a good meteor shower expected in just two days!
The second “EVA” is to visit your local planetarium or observatory. Institutions like these need public support, and they put on a great show. If there isn’t a planetarium or observatory where you live, you might be able to hook up with a local astronomy group and participate in a group outing with shared telescopes. For extra credit you can email John McCain and explain to him the difference between a planetarium projection system and an overhead projector.
I’ve put together some helpful links on the Astronomy Reading Challenge page along with the book lists and some badges to decorate your blog with. Check it out and then join me for this bookish journey through the universe!