Are You Ready to Observe?
(Credit: Dennis Utley)

In Texas, the Brazos Region Astronomy Service Society held a star party for scouts and their families.
As you can see here, they thoroughly enjoyed observing Venus, Jupiter and Mars.

At a neighborhood Star Party, James Wessel, of the Houston Astronomical Society stated: "I handed out International Year of Astronomy (IYA) January information sheets, flyers and Solar Probe (upcoming NASA mission to the Sun) postcards, to anyone that was interested. We set up a 8" GO TO telescope, and an information table. The table had a sign up sheet for the next Star Party, some fact sheets on averted vision and the physiology of the eye, and a homemade notebook that covered in detail all objects that we might observe that night. We saw Venus, Messier 15 (M15), a globular cluster in the constellation of Pegasus the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), the Orion Nebula (M42) and the Pleiades (M45) or Seven Sisters. My green laser tour of the constellations was particularly well received. I think most of the attendees will plan to come back and join us for our February Star Party."

At the Oak Lawn Library in Texas, John Wagoner of the City Lights Astronomical Society for Students commented: "This was an interesting event. Parents asked as many questions as their children. They were totally into our presentation. Even the librarian asked several questions. One family followed me out into the parking lot while I was packing up my gear to ask yet more questions."

Demonstrating with the Westbrook Cub Scouts in Maine, Joan Chamberlin, of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England had this to say: "We stuck to holding different planets up to the Sun banner and counting how many Jupiters it took to span the diameter of the Sun and how many Earths to span Jupiter, and how many Earths did that make to span the Sun. I discovered most of them really like math and told them to take all the math courses they could, so that when they finish school they could go into a science career if they wanted. We talked about black holes, supernovae, finding planets around other stars, and why Pluto is a Plutoid instead of a planet. I never once had to ask them to pay attention or be polite. Astronomy had them captivated!"

January's theme for IYA 2009 is Telescopes and Space Probes: Today's Starry Messengers.

Learn about Venus this month and use the "Are You Ready to Observe?" activity to get your eyeballs primed to look up.

Use this guide to discover the excitement of the International Year of Astronomy.

Each month we'll feature a separate Night Sky Network activity on this website.

Better yet, check out your local astronomy club, to learn more about Venus and be captivated by astronomy yourself.