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News Updates » 06 November 2009


... the end of... Galilean Nights

Not so long ago, I had the honor of writing the first post in the Galilean Nights Blog. Now, I’m twice honored in closing the door I opened three weeks ago.

I intended to write about the legacy that both 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) and Galilean Nights (GN) leave for the future… but Alan Dyer beat me to it. I advise you to read his magnificent post.

Then I thought about an inspirational post, a “there are no borders when you look at the sky” kind of post… but again I was a little late, as Pouria Nazemi already discussed the subject. Also a very nice post you should read.

What’s next? Humm… maybe I’ll describe some of the events in Galilean Nights. Oh… wait. That was Lee Pullen’s job.

I’m running out of ideas.

What am I left with?

I know! Give credit to where it’s due!

And on top of the list is, of course, GN’s chair, Catherine Moloney. She was the driver of the GN “bus”. Sometimes it ran smoothly and she just steered, but when it got stuck, she was the one that rolled up her sleeves and pushed, until it was running again.

Then there is the task group. It was a pleasure to be a part of the same group as these people. Some I already knew from 100HA, like Mike, Bruno or Manoj, while others I met for the first time, like Jean-Luc or Tasso. All did something, all pitched in, all made their best effort to make GN the worldwide successful event it turned out to be.

We also have to give credit to all GN national contacts. Pouria Nazimi for example, a fellow GN blogger (did I mention her nice post yet?), helped on a local level in Iran, a country which had more than 60 events. She’s just the example of the hard work local contacts did, by phoning, emailing, asking, nagging and begging astronomers, politicians, associations, museums, science centers and just the average man/woman, so they could host a Galilean Nights event.

A special “thank you” also goes to the people which regularly give up going to the bar to join a bunch of strangers with telescopes. Those that got up from their sofas, forgot TV, cinema, the concert of that famous band, or that nice book in their bedside table, and came to us.

But, most of all, we have to thank the faceless crowd that DIDN’T know who we were, what we do, what’s the point of astronomy, but stopped to see what were all those people doing around that strange tube-like instrument… and STILL they stayed!

And since this isn’t the Oscars, I’ll stop thanking everything and everyone now.

I’d like to say again the pleasure it was to be a part of such magnificent and (hopefully not) once in a lifetime experience. I don’t know the turnout numbers for GN yet, but I’m sure they were similar to those of 100HA. Can you imagine 1… MILLION… people looking through telescopes?

So I bid you farewell, see you next time, and I’ll finish with the IYA2009 motto:

“The Universe, yours to discover”

Ricardo Cardoso Reis
Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto
Galilean Nights Task Group