Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 International Year of Astronomy - Personal Review

Okay, well, one more post for the year!

2009 was marked as the International Year of Astronomy, and I believe this worked well to popularize and promote both amateur and professional astronomy overall. It seemed that professional organizations were more open this year, coupled with some very interesting astronomical discoveries ranging from the discovery of various new planets around other systems, the confirmation of the existence of water on Mars and our own Moon, as well as discoveries of a more immense nature surrounding black holes and dark matter throughout the cosmos. It's also been that the case that many amateur astronomy clubs around the world have conducted more public outreach activities to enhance and entice the general public's astronomical interests.

Personally, it was a pretty active year. Here are some highlights:

1. Published four articles regarding astronomy on this blog, which are more geared towards beginners. These articles were downloaded thousands of times, and I hope they are of good use to those who have read them! These articles include:
a. Astronomy Without a Telescope
b. Planning Your Observing Session: Choosing What to Observe
c. Planning Your Observing Session: Choosing When to Observe
d. Planning Your Observing Session: Choosing Where to Observe
2. Got more involved with public outreach. I attended four public outreach events through Central Texas and was responsible for running one event in particular!
3. We were graced with a relatively bright comet - Comet Lulin. This was the first comet I was able to capture! The image is here.
4. I got my kids into astronomy this year by allowing them to inherit my 6" Dob. They went out with me a few times and are now real pros at operating the telescope!
5. Took some of my best DSO images this year using my Nikon DSLR and LX200 with William Optics 66mm. These included the Sword of Orion, M51 Whirlpool Galaxy, M31 Andromeda Galaxy, M3 Globular Cluster and the M8 & M20 region near Sagittarius. I also learned a lot about techniques, including autoguiding and taking the necessary flat, dark and bias frames needed to produce better quality images. Next year should be a better year from an astrophotography perspective...
6. I got to observe a massive impact mark on the surface of Jupiter on July 21st, resulting from either a comet or asteroid impact. This was first observed by an amateur in Australia. An awesome thing to see!
7. Worked on getting more acquainted with the Moon. I feel that I can now accurately identify a lot of the Moon's major features.
8. I started a joint venture with my father in Australia to observe and log all Caldwell Catalog objects!
9. This blog made the Top 100 Astronomy and Space Blogs listing here - not too shabby!!

So, a busy astronomy year for me, and an extremely enjoyable one at that! Throughout the year I gained new knowledge about the hobby while imparting my existing knowledge to others - a nice balance.

How was your International Year of Astronomy?

Clear Skies,


Johany DeMarco said...

Wow Phil,
You had quite a busy year! But a very fruitful one at that!!! I loved the photos you took with your Nikon DSLR of the Sword of Orion, M51, M31,M3 Globular Cluster and the M8/M20 region near Sagittarius. I hope one day I can take pictures like that with my DSLR camera!!!

And please keep writing more articles for those just starting to get their feet wet in astronomy. Your articles are really well done with a bit of fun humor scattered around in there! That makes it so much fun to read!

Phil said...

Thanks, mate. looking forward to seeing your shots, and all the best for the new year!

Polaris B said...

Good year, Phil! Please keep it up!

Orbit 17 said...

Interesting article. Nice. There were alot of interesting events in Astronomy this year. We can share news articles in the new year at