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Informational Email 2009-06

Mailed 11 March 2009

U.S. Naval Observatory to Host Open House, 2009 April 4
As Part of IYA 2009 "100 Hours of Astronomy" Program

In celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope, the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO have declared 2009 to be the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009). As part of a world-wide celebration of this event, the U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) will be sponsoring a free-admission Open House on Saturday, 4 April, from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm. During that time the Observatory's telescopes will be open for inspection, scientists will explain the mission of USNO's Master Clock, exhibits will display the Observatory's history and present work, and local amateur astronomers will share views through their telescopes.

The open house will coincide with world-wide activities promoted by the IYA, specifically the "100 Hours of Astronomy" activities taking place around the globe from April 2 through April 5. The main goal of this effort is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to look through a good-quality astronomical telescope. To this end, USNO's open house should provide many opportunities for patrons to do so. In addition to safe observation of the Sun during the afternoon, the evening hours will feature a multitude of amateur telescopes that will be trained on the Moon, Saturn, plus a host of other interesting celestial sights.

While a limited number of parking spaces will be available on the grounds, visitors are encouraged to park across from the British and New Zealand Embassies on Observatory Circle. Visitors are also encouraged to use public transportation where the Observatory is served by the N2, N4, and N6 Metrobus routes from the DuPont Circle Metro station. Users of public transportation should exit the bus by the British Embassy and walk to the gate at the end of Observatory Circle. Visitors will pass through a security screening process upon gaining access to the grounds. Bags and other personal items will be subject to search. Coolers and large bags or containers will not be allowed on the base. Cameras and photographs are permitted.

Once on the grounds, visitors may tour the historic Building 1, home of the Observatory's world-renowned James M. Gilliss Library, and its 115 year-old 12-inch Alvan Clark refractor telescope, which will be set up for safe viewing of the Sun, weather permitting. The 26-inch "Great Equatorial" telescope, famous for its discovery of the moons of Mars in 1877 and still in use on every clear night, will also be open for inspection.

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