Today is International Astronomy Day, a holiday that was first celebrated in 1973. Although there are multiple national and regional astronomy celebrations within the US, this single day has been agreed upon as the multi-national day of observance on which we honor the mystery and majesty of all celestial bodies.
Astronomy is the study of the stars, planets, and cosmos, but you don’t have to be an expert in applied astrophysics to appreciate the wonders of the universe at large. In fact, you might find that your friends and neighbors have a deep appreciation of both the stars and the sciences if you participate in any local activities today. In many regions there are discounts at planetariums, free telescope rentals, group stargazing gatherings, and many more fun festivities. Just ask around and you’re sure to find a meaningful way to celebrate.
Even if you don’t make it to a telescope tonight, you can always go gazing with the naked eye, or use star maps to find some of your favorite constellations. It’s amazing what you can find when you know just where to look. You can even see our closest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, which will appear without a telescope as a single brilliant star. Just be careful if you plan on making any wishes, because some of the stars you’ll see are no longer in existence. By the time their brilliant glow has traveled across millions of light years, the actual stars themselves may be long ago burnt out.