Until your telescope arrives, grab a pair of binocs and check out the Green Comet. No, not a new summer blockbuster superhero franchise, but the comet Lulin. (I assume Bruce Willis and his team are standing by in case NASA calls.)
If you aren't doing anything after work on Friday, instead of going to happy hour take a boat down to the Southern Ocean off the southwestern coast of Chile. That is where the moon is going to occult Venus, according to the IYA2009 calendar of events. (That sounds like it hurts. And why would this happen in the Southern Ocean, instead of the sky?)
More of an indoor, tied-to-technology type? Fear not, oh wireless ones - AstroTwitter is on the horizon. AstroTwitter will build on the Twitter concept, but instead of asking, "What are you doing?" AstroTwitter will ask, "What are you observing?" IYA2009 says current plans include links to Google Maps to plot not just where people are looking from, but also what they are looking at. "Individual observatories will each have their own RSS feeds. The program will be open to anyone anywhere who is looking up. Want to know what Hubble is viewing? Or are you curious about your local astronomy club? If they join AstroTwitter, you can check out both groups with a click."
While you are twittering your thumbs, download Star Walk onto your iPhone or iPod. It is an interactive astronomy map and can use GPS to determine the immediate night sky where you are or at a different location. It also has a time machine function that would cause me many nights' sleep because I would be up all night, viewing star fields from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, or way in the future while humming "The sun is a mass of incandescent gas..." to myself.
Or if you just want to lie back in a field and watch the stars, ponder this: what constitutes life? Will we recognize it on another world if we stumble across it? Are there biological laws that make all life similar? (For more thought-provoking questions on the implications of exploring the galaxy, check out Jeffrey Bennett's article in American Scholar's Works in Progress section.)
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