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Genoa, Italy (1625 - 1712)
Giovanni Domenico Cassini was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, engineer, and astrologer. Cassini was an astronomer at the Panzano Observatory, from 1648 to 1669, professor of astronomy at the University of Bologna and became, in 1671, director of the Paris Observatory. Along with Robert Hooke, Cassini is given credit for the discovery of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter (ca. 1665). Cassini was the first to observe four of Saturn's moons, which he called Sidera Lodoicea. Around 1690, Cassini was the first to observe differential rotation within Jupiter's atmosphere.

A Star Party for Your School: Finding an Astronomy Club Near You

One of the most dramatic ways you can help your students appreciate the fascination of astronomy is to offer them a look through a real telescope -- allowing them the same kind of "aha" moment that Galileo had. Alas, most schools cannot afford to have their own telescope, and don't have anyone on the staff who could use or demonstrate one, even if they had it.

However, there are likely to be people in your community who could help you. All around the United States (and the world), astronomy enthusiasts have organized "amateur astronomy clubs" that hold regular meetings, offer star parties (times to go outside to a dark location and bring telescopes), and hold outreach activities for local schools and the public.

Those astronomy clubs that are especially interested in working with teachers and the public are part of the Night Sky Network, supported by NASA through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and organized by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (see below). The Night Sky Network is partnering with the producers of 400 Years of the Telescope and selected PBS stations around the country to offer public events in connection with the show.

To find out more about such events, visit our IYA Calendar page.

Other clubs will be working with a local planetarium (sky theater) and offering observing sessions during the time that the planetarium program that goes with our TV show, Two Small Pieces of Glass, will be showing. And many clubs are willing, with enough notice, to send someone to your school to do either a daytime or evening program for the students who are studying astronomy.

To find an astronomy club near you, please visit these websites:

The Night Sky Network Club Finder

Sky & Telescope Magazine Club Finder

Astronomy Magazine Club Finder

Astronomical League Club Directory