National Astronomy Day On May 15 and October 9, 2021, the calendar of curious public holidays from all over the world turns its gaze to the stars. Because this date is celebrated by the USA as their national day of astronomy (National Astronomy Day – or often just briefly: Astronomy Day). The following lines shed light on what this annual day of action, which is primarily organized by amateur astronomers and astronomical societies, is all about.
Who started National Astronomy Day?
In contrast to many of the other curious celebrations and action days from the United States gathered here, the origins and backgrounds of National Astronomy Day are relatively well documented. The idea or initiative for this special day of the science of the stars goes back to the American Doug Berger and the year 1973. Berger was then President of the Astronomical Association of Northern California.
Goals and Intention: What is Astronomy Day about?
Since the first edition in 1973, the initiators of this Astronomy Day have pursued the goal of creating public awareness of the work of astronomy and the natural sciences linked to it with various exhibitions, events and campaigns. Both professional scientists and ambitious amateur astronomers were expressly included (see also the article on the International Day of Planetariums or International Day of Planetaria on the second Sunday in March).
While the activities were initially limited to the Northern California region, over the years it has gained nationwide acceptance. In the United States, hundreds of astronomy associations, observatories, museums, colleges and planetariums now take part in the national astronomy day with their own actions and events. The National Astronomy Day is also the final highlight of an entire week of astronomy action (National Astronomy Week), which begins on the Monday of the previous week on the respective date.
When do you celebrate US Astronomy Day?
The American Astronomy Day occupies a special place in the calendar of the curious world days in that it can be celebrated twice each year. However, these are always flexible dates that are always based on the calendar-most obvious Saturday at the quarter moon between April and May in spring (first quarter of the lunar cycle) or September and October in autumn (last quarter of the lunar cycle. However, the autumn variant was only introduced in 2007. Specifically, the following dates are due for Astronomy Day in the coming years:
Astronomy Day in spring
- 2018: Saturday April 21st
- 2019: Saturday May 11th
- 2020: Saturday May 2nd
- 2021: Saturday 15th May
- 2022: Saturday, May 7th
- 2023: Saturday April 29th
- 2024: Saturday May 18th
- 2025: Saturday 3rd May
The fall astronomy day
- 2018: Saturday October 13th
- 2019: Saturday 5th October
- 2020: Saturday, September 26th
- 2021: Saturday, October 9th
- 2022: Saturday October 1st
- 2023: Saturday, September 22nd
- 2024: Saturday, October 12th
- 2025: Saturday, September 27th
International offshoot of Astronomy Day
In the course of time, American Astronomy Day has also had numerous international offshoots. In Canada as well as in numerous European countries, astronomers and stargazers celebrate their own national day of astronomy. The following initiatives should be mentioned here as examples:
- In Germany and Austria, they have been celebrating their own astronomy day since 2003.
- Also in Switzerland since 2007, where they have been cooperating with Germany since 2010 and putting Astronomy Day under a common leitmotif.
- Sweden has been celebrating national astronomers day since 2012.
- The Nuits des Étoiles (starry nights), a similar project, are also known in France.
The respective dates differ – depending on the geographical location – from the date of the US Astronomy Day or have partly changed.
In this sense: Have a great day of astronomy to all of you.