Among the IYA’s 11 global “cornerstone” projects is “100 Hours of Astronomy,” which kicks off on 2 April in Philadelphia with a lecture and exhibition featuring Galileo artifacts, and then goes on to four days—roughly 100 hours—of star parties, observations of the Sun, webcasts from research observatories, and other activities. “This is by far the biggest event of IYA2009,” says Mike Simmons, a retired medical researcher who is cochair of 100 Hours and founder of the nonprofit organization Astronomers Without Borders. Over one 24-hour period, amateur astronomers and other volunteers around the world will set up telescopes on sidewalks and in parks in the early evening. “You go where the people are. There will be events in Sri Lanka, in Iraq, everywhere,” says Simmons. The featured celestial objects, he adds, will be the Moon and Saturn. “They are ‘oh my god’ objects—that’s what you hear most when people see them for the first time.”
Check around your nearest university or major cities. Chances are, there's something being done as part of this year-long celebration.