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April is Global Astronomy Month

A time to look up at the stars and marvel at the wonders of the universe. Though for many, the mysteries of the stars have remained just that…a mystery. Bright burning stars are lights which cover the night sky in an awe-inspiring display of beauty and magnificence. Even so, many’s foray into astronomy revolves around the world of zodiac signs, which has quickly made its way into daily life in the modern world. Unless you have an interest in the world outside of our own, astronomy may seem as distant and unknown as the dark sky above. To this, organizations, like Astronomers Without Borders have made it their mission to expand knowledge of astronomy, uniting our world with a love of sky and universe. They provide numerous programs, events, and communities for their members to create a more unified understanding of our world and the possibilities of the future. Some of the upcoming events hosted by the organization include a livestream of a hybrid solar eclipse (April 20th) and a meteor shower (April 22nd)! They are but one of several groups trying to make the big universe outside of our world a bit less scary and more accessible.

Planisphere, 1814. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: PH769

However, we all cannot board a spaceship and jet into the unknown. So, for a closer to home view of the stars and a nice history lesson in the evolution of astronomy, the Wardlaw Museum provides the chance to view astronomy equipment in its fourth gallery: the Explorer Gallery.

Orrery, 1748-60. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: PH211

Here, one can discover how past astrologists used to study the stars and how sailors navigated their way around the world using these celestial beings. From telescopes, celestial globes, planispheres (as seen above), to old telescopes, the Wardlaw provides a fantastic opportunity to expand one’s knowledge and more! Whether you are just starting out your space journey or simply an enthusiast, this is the place for you!

A New Astronomical Instrument, 1817. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: PH773

Global Astronomy Month provides a chance to expand our knowledge of the universe and of the place that has provided us with much wonder and entertainment from the first-time humans looked to the stars to the moon landing. It has allowed us to contemplate about the complexities of the universe hidden within the simplicity of the planets and the stars. For all its unknowns, it does not have to be a stranger. We have much to learn from the stars…they are simply waiting for us to ask.

Blog post by Kiara DeVore, PHD student & Visitor Services Facilitator at the University of St Andrews.