The Sidewalk Astronomer
Newsletter of the Sidewalk Astronomers              ISAN-4 Month 2010
In This Issue
Sun Earth Day
Where Will You Be...
New Sidewalk Recognition Program
A Story About John Dobson
Update on JD
G.A.M.'s Line Up for April
Got My Scope, Got my Spot Now What?
Mars and Saturn from South of the Border
The Eclipse Experience from Mesopotamia



Is March 20th and surely we can fit some solar observing into our ISAN 4 day!  Maybe we can host afternoon events, BBQ, or picnics focused on our favorite star the SUN!  


NASA has been "probing" the sun so they have great information on their website you can share  with your guests. Just click on the link below and you will discover


Most people have never viewed the sun through a telescope and only seen eclipses reflected on cardboard with pin holes. 


In planning your day time event make sure ALL PRECAUTIONS are made for your public. Your guests need to be taught safety considerations for solar viewing.


Post your events and let us know your plans for the sun on March 20th.   
We've recently added about 4000 photos to the website! Check it out and see if you are there. We use a photo album service that doesn't work in some browsers, so try Internet Explorer if you have a problem.
Please upload more photos if you have them, we love to see what everyone is up to. PLEASE make sure to include a description of your photos or at least tag them with your country or city.  
Where will you be, and What will you be doing on March 20th?  The world wants to know! 
Support the Sidewalk Astronomers! Make a donation today.
Did you know we have bumper stickers, t-shirts and other branded items? Visit our on-line Store 

Sidewalk Recognition Program!  
 As 2010 unfolds don't forget to log your hours to start on your way to achieving the 50 Hours Sidewalk Astronomy pin.  
In THis Issue
In THis Issue
Getting it Together - 
Our new National and Local  Organizers have been hard at work promoting ISAN-4. The US has been safely assigned to coordinators so we can reach from sea to shinning sea and border to border.
We need more contacts that are willing to mobilize amateurs in their communities and become globally minded. If you are intersted, please let us know. 
Join Our Mailing List

A Story about John Dobson 
by Ted Blank

A few weeks ago I was in the Bay Area on business. I had an evening free, and since I always bring a small scope and mount with me I set up in front of the Safeway in San Carlos to show people Jupiter and the first quarter Moon.

One lady spent quite a few minutes with me, and eventually told me a story.  Twenty or so years ago she had been walking in San Francisco and had come upon a group of sidewalk astronomers. 

John was among them..... 


Global Astronomy Month

gam logo

 In April 2009, the 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) and Galilean Nights Cornerstone Projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) showed what the astronomy community can do working together. As the first truly global outreach event, amateur astronomers, clubs, science centers and others held events by the thousands around the world, attracting the largest public audiences ever. The excitement was contagious as these unified global events, encouraging everyone to look skyward, swept the world.

 AWB's motto and the slogan for GAM -

 One People, One Sky

Astro Book Drive

jd2Latest update on JD  

JD is doing great! He'll be out for ISAN in Hollywood and look for photos in the next few days!
     ISAN4Its Here!! 4th International Sidewalk Astronomy Night on this Saturday, the 20th of March.  Numerous clubs, Sidewalk coordinators, national contacts,  regional and local contacts, astronomy clubs, and sidewalk groups have all been busy formalizing their activities and events for this year.
     I too, have been swept into a little frenzy  of my own (which is my excuse for the delay on getting this out earlier) since we didn't have a spot that could accommodate telescopes and the public in a safe way.  But persistence does pay off and the Hideaway Pizza that has a fiber-optic ceiling with flashing stars and intermittent meteors, and a huge planet Earth suspended underneath............... we could not go any where else!  I finally talked to the general manager after leaving countless messages, and  he is excited.  The concern was if the pagers will reach and if not, that would create a mess in the lobby.  THEY REACH!!! 
     After we formalized that, we head off to Starbucks for a coffee for my husband and a passion fruit iced tea for me. My husband had already talked about our sidewalk group a few months ago and  the manager offered a section out front and  permission to move the tables about to set up telescopes.  He suggested that Sunday, March 21st would work for him since a large church lets out from their evening service and many, many folks head over there for coffee.  We let some folks know about where we would be and some one returned a post saying, "Are you kidding me, coffee AND telescopes!  I am there!"
     So where ever you find yourselves on Saturday night, know that you are forever connected to other guerilla urban astronomers.   Make sure to post your photos in the photo gallery on the website (please write your location on each photo). Stay tuned for next month's recap of global ISAN events. 
We are just getting warmed up cause G.A.M. is just around the corner.


 The first skydiving of the 1st Iraqi Astronaut Fareed Lafta over Halgurd Peak in Iraqi Kurdistan Region
by Azhy Hasan
 President of Amateur Association of Astronomers of Kurdistan/Iraq 
Freed & Azhy
    The Iraqi trained astronaut Captain Fareed Abdu AL-Zahraa lafta has a green light from the Iraqi and Kurdistan Region governments to make his 1st  skydiving 
jump over the highest peak in Iraq, Halgurd in Hasare Rost Mountain about 3607 meters above sea level East of Erbil City.
   This is the result from the famous skydiving jump Fareed made above Mount Everest peak two years ago and it was the first skydiving jump made by a human from 9150 meters.
   If the weather conditions be well, this jumping is set to be on Newroz Day on March, 21, 2010. "This skydiving is a message of peace and friendship to all mankind and also to make bridges of love between the nations and different cultures around the world from connecting the highest mountain peaks together", said Fareed.
  "I am so glad that I am now a member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Kurdistan and more and that AAAK will be one of the sponsors for this event!", he said.  Find out more about AAAK's skydiving member Fareed Lafta's site:
Freed skydiving
  Fareed lafta is an extreme sports enthusiast. He is called the West Kakarin Arab champion sports challange and record holder in the Guinness Book for parachutist jumping from the top of the highest mountain in the world. Fareed loves the challenge and the excitement of adrenaline sports and signed with his own hands Qaysa number in the Guinness book.  He is also a professional pracitioner of many other sports, Kalghos in the depths of the sea to the lethal extremes and jumped umbrellas and rides motorcycles.
   These two photos and the narrative is courtesy of Jawad Kadhim Farhan the President of the Iraqi Association of Science and Talented Amateurs  in Baghdad, Iraqi who informed Sidewalk Astronomers in December, about their countryman going to space next year!
     Eight reasons why Iraqi Arabs love this hero:
1.  Skydived and jumped above the highest peak in the world at 
     30,000  ft.
2.  The first future astronaut to represent Iraqi and Arabs.
3.  The first Iraqi-Arab civilian pilot flying in a fighter aircraft of the type of
     MiG-29s to the frontiers of space to 90,000 feet high.
4.  The first Arab Iraqi pilot flying with the world champions to the reviews
     in the military air fighter aircraft of type -39.
5.  The first Iraqi diver who achieved 80 meters under the sea
      without breathing for a period of four and a half minutes.
6.   The first pilot of an Iraqi paratrooper engine.
7.  First pilot of an Iraqi dhow.
And finally.....
8.  Made the first leap free umbrella over Baghdad Kagafzp for civil
     peace and love for Iraq the world over. 
Captain Freed
Fareed will visit Jordan to receive training on how to do astronomical research since his experience is limited to leadership and aviation.  Fareed's colleague, Suheir Qaisi states that this trip which will happen next February is known as the "Gargarin Arabs" is a great turning point in his life since he will be the first Arab astronaut.  It will take  six  months to to design to implement  testing the latest astro-nomical research in the scientific and technicial fields.  
Freed in cockpit
Fareed touched the limits of outer space with Russia's famous pilot "Sergei" on March 12th, 2009.  It was to simulate the darkness of the vast space of the universe for four minutes before re-entry in to the atmo-sphere.
View live footage of Everest jump
Thanks Azhy and Jawad!

1. Living Legends Series - (virtual event) Date to be announced

A highlight of several online interactive events during GAM, the Living Legend Series begins its run during GAM. Streamed live online for everyone to watch, AWB Affiliates around the world will also interact with the special guests. Each program presents a unique opportunity to see and interact with the most fascinating people in astronomy. It's one of many online programs being presented throughout the month.

2. Is There Anybody Out There? - (remote event) 7th April 00.00 UT

Who hasn't asked themselves this question? Astronomers have discovered 450 planets outside our Solar System, and you can observe one of them online, sharing the excitement with others around the globe, by the dimming of the light of its "sun" while it crosses in front of it. It's one highlight of a series of online observing events for everyone.

3. SunDay - (physical event) 11th April

Become a Sun worshipper on 11 April! Our own star is the worldwide focus on this day. Gather your friends to observe the Sun, bring your telescope out for others to see it, make a solar spectroscope, tune in to special programs. Be sure you use the proper methods and filters! SunDay is one of many programs about the Sun to take place during GAM.

4. Saturn Watch - (physical event) from 12th to 16th April

Saturn's rings are back! They've been turned sideways to us and hard to see but this fascinating planet is once again showing off its famous ring system. Saturn Watch begins on 11 April and continues nightly through the 16th. Amateur clubs and sidewalk astronomers are encouraged to plan observing events to share Saturn with the public. It's one of several programs meant to encourage amateur astronomers to get involved.

5. Beauty Without Borders - Saturn for All - (physical event) 16th April

Beauty Without Borders is a grassroots program begun by amateurs around the world and now coordinated by Astronomers Without Borders to bring more of us together to share celestial highlights with the public, and with each other. This time Saturn is the "beauty". If you have a telescope, join sidewalk astronomers worldwide who have banded together in this unique program.

6. Write Your Name in the Sky! - (remote event) 15th April 21.30 UT

Asteroids have always intrigued us. They're mysterious and sometimes frightening when they enter our region of space. In this online remote observing event we face our fears and reveal the secrets of these lonely travelers as we hunt for asteroids in real time. The first to discover one could get naming rights, putting a label in the sky for eternity!

7. Lunar Week - (physical event) from 17th to 23rd April

17 April marks the start of Lunar Week, seven nights dedicated to observing the closest celestial body to Earth and our companion in our yearly journey around the Sun. Moon-themed star parties to observe the Moon through telescopes and by naked eye, educational programs, online observing events, competitions and a celebration of the Moon in different cultures are just a few ways you can participate in Lunar Week.

8. Lyrids Watch - (physical event) 21st and 22nd April

Meteor showers are one of nature's great displays: dozens of "falling stars" that scratch the night sky. Dress warmly, lay back and watch the show right above your head. It's more than a light show, though. The cosmic debris we see burning up in the atmosphere are left over from a comet's tail. There are records of this meteor shower going back 2600 years. What will this year's shower be like?

9. One Star at a Time - (dark skies) Dates to be announced

One Star at a Time is looking for a missing object. We've lost our Milky Way and we want it back! The Milky Way stretches across the sky, composed of thousands of stars in our galaxy but it's hidden from view in our cities by the blanket of light we needlessly and wastefully send up into the sky. But what can you do about it? Join this new global project - launching during GAM - and pledge to preserve and protect the starry night sky above your own home or business. Join with others around the world to bring our Milky Way back - One Star at a Time.

10. Global Star Party - 24th April

The excitement generated by Global Astronomy Month comes to a peak on Saturday, 24 April, with the ultimate observing event. The Global Star Party is the time to come out under the stars, bring your own telescope and encourage others to join to bridge gaps across the seas, under the theme "one people, one sky." Begun during 100 Hours of Astronomy during the International Year of Astronomy, the Global Star Party is an ongoing annual AWB event

In the capital city of the Serbian, Northern Province of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, there is an organization that focuses on outreach to children and their families. It is made possible by Caspar Gerard Oorhuys Foundation of the Netherlands, SOS Children's Village of Sremska Kamenca-Serbia and the Astronomical Society LIRA of Novi-Sad, Serbia.

The NGO CASPAR, sponsored a series of events regarding popularization of astronomy with children through a program called "Touch the Sky" which had other key projects: posters, Galileo's Eye, Rockets, Darwin and the Meteors, Nights in the Amphitheater, Cosmos and Stones, Workshops and an On Tour session.

Zoran Novalkovic, said that, "These events were successfully organized for the occasion of the International Year of Astronomy. Our program for making the IYA2009 was very versatile and very well accepted and approved of with great interest not only by kids but also by citizens of our town."

Recently, they have placed a web-site summarizing the events with numerous photographs on last year's events and happenings.  If you would like to help or  need more information go to:


Got my scope, got my spot now what?

 by Peggy Walker       

     Now that Spring is here, Saturn and Mars will make themselves available for our sidewalk public.  Mars has been here already so now we can add Saturn to the mix.  In preparing for a recent star party, I came across a great resource from Sky and Telescope on line.  The link is below and it offers a place to type in your day and time and it will give you Saturn and his moons in their position. The moons that may show up on this site are listed below since they give an abrevation for each one.  Current Moon Positions

    Granted, we have a hard time seeing some of his moons since they play hide-n-seek in the rings but it would still be worth the effort to look a little harder just in case.  Last week I did see a moon in the rings! Saturn's supporting actors are Rhea, who was found to have a ring system, Titan, who was discovered by Christiaan Huygens in 1655, Tethys, who is heavily cratered and has icy polar caps, Dione, who was discovered by Giovanni Cassinni in 1684, Enceladus, who clearly orbits inside the E-ring that it helps to form, Mimas is ovoid shaped and has a large impact crater named after Herschell, Lapetus, the walnut-shaped moon that is tidally locked to the same face of Saturn and Hyperion who looks more like a captured asteroid with an unpredictable wobble.
  Don't forget our own satellite the Moon.  It always offers many great surface features!
   Also an asteroid is making its way in Leo it is 21 Lutetia and is orange in color.  It was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt on Nov. 15, 1852.
So engage your public with great cosmic facts and prove that you are smarter than a 5th grader!
 by Kos Coronaios
   Limpopo Astronomy Outreach headed to the Waterberg and visited Vaalwater on the 19th and 20th of August 2009.   Two hours after leaving Louis Trichardt the road headed up the northern slopes ofthe Waterberg Mountains and saw me dodging fallen rock slides and baboons rushing across the road. Arriving at Boschdraai Primary 40km from Vaalwater shortly after lunch, I was greeted by the learners who rushed towards the vehicle and trailer. They were expecting me one hour earlier and could not wait for my arrival, teachers Katie and Toboha explained, as they welcomed me to the school. 
 My two assistants helped with translation and the handing out of material etc. They explained that the Headmistress was away for the day on a workshop but would join us for the evening's stargazing later on. The next couple of hours were spent building Southern Star Wheels and MoonScopes with the eager learners who had loads of question to ask. 
During the afternoon we practiced using the Star Wheel and the MoonScope stressing that they must not look at the Sun with it. Explaining the basic principals of the Star Wheel, I had a couple of the kids imagining that they were the Sun and Earth and showed them as the Earth rotated while at the same time orbiting the Sun how the view of the sky changed.  


 by Luis Enrique Gomez
I would like to inform you about our observations on Mars and Saturn on February 6th from 6:30 p.m. to almost midnight.  As part of the work team from Johannes Keppler of the Universidad Nacional Experimental Rafael Maria Baralt in Cuidad Ojeda, Eastern side of Venezuela, we take time every month to view.
This time the opportunity to watch Mars and Saturn, with all of their splendorous views arrived. We had two telescopes, both Celestron and the visitors around the Buchon Park were very close to us and they were very excite for the view.  For a few of them, it was the first time they watched Saturn's rings and it was possible to see Titan very close to the planet.
kepler 3
     As I was conducting some research in some non-astronomy related areas, I stumbled upon many links to IYA 2009 off of the sites I visited.  It occurred to me that IYA was far more reaching in its affect  than I first realized! So I got this idea to give clues on some of these places that supported IYA last year or were major contributors to the science of astronomy through five clues.   Are you game?
1. This place had eleven counties involved in 100 Hours of Astronomy.
2.  Was a major contributor in the recent discovery of M82-Cigar Galaxy's-hyperactive starburst galaxy where stars explode and form rapidly.
3.  This observatory was established around 1783 - 1785.
4. Sir William Rowan Hamilton was a director in the 19th century.
5.  Is the 20th largest island in the world.
As a last resort 53*  20'  52N     6*  15'  35W
 Let me know what you came up with at
The Eclipse Expereince from Mesopotamia
 submitted by Jawad Kadhim Farhan
Jawad and the Iraqi Association of Amateur Science Hobbysts and Talented Persons, hosted a
 sidewalk event to share the
eclipse with the public. 
This event was held in cooperation with the Iraqi Council of Representatives in Baghdad on the 15th of January, 2010.
This event was held at the Baghdad Al-Mansour Melia Hotel which is a four star hotel. In one of the photos you can see the news media was covering this event. 
Also note that the public was given cardboard viewers to safely view the eclipse.
I hope you enjoy reading the newsletter, please submit updates on your local activities to be included in future editions. Send an email to with "newsletter submission" in the subject line (this is important, we get massive amounts of email and articles won't make it to the newsletter without that note). As you can see, photos will be small so make sure that any you send represent well in this size.   
Please forward this email to other amateur astronomers that you feel would enjoy reading it and becoming part of the Sidewalk Astronomers community!
 Carpe Noctem... and share it!

Sidewalk Astronomers