National Astronomy Week

National Astronomy Week (NAW) is an event held every few years in the United Kingdom to promote public awareness of astronomy by celebrating notable astronomical events.

National Astronomy Week (NAW)
GenreAstronomy-related events and competitions
FrequencyAs per notable events;
Duration: 1 Week
CountryUnited Kingdom
Years active33
Inaugurated1981 (1981)
Previous event2014
Next eventNot yet announced
ParticipantsObserved by Astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts


During the week, astronomy societies, planetaria, schools, universities and other organisations from all over the UK organise events to promote interest in, and knowledge of, astronomy. The organisers promote the week using extensive contacts with the media and all the major UK astronomical organisations, many of whom provide funding. Events range from talks, visits and in particular the opportunity for children and adults alike to observe the sky through a range of equipment. The 2014 event is described in Astronomy & Geophysics magazine.[1]


The need for National Astronomy Week (NAW) was first defined in the late 1970s. A group of both professional and amateur astronomers as well as teachers and educators was formed to define and run the first ever event. NAW was proposed in 1979 and a steering committee was set up in 1980. Since then a total of seven events have run as listed below.

Timeline of NAW events
Sr. Year Notes Reference
1 1981 To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Uranus.
2 1985 Return of Halley’s Comet.
3 1990 To commemorate the centenary of the British Astronomical Association.
4 1996 To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of Neptune.
5 2003 To coincide with arguable the closest approach of Mars for 60,000 years.
6 2009 To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Thomas Harriot's reputed first use of the telescope for astronomical purposes.
It was during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 as a major event organised by the steering committee at Syon House
7 2014 To celebrate Jupiter attaining its highest possible point in the northern hemisphere night skies for 12 years. [3]


The seventh event, named "Target Jupiter", ran from 1–8 March 2014. Jupiter was at a very high position in the sky, the best that will be achieved for many years. Observing conditions were generally well above average. More than 200 events were run across the UK. Participating organisations included Astronomy Societies, Schools, Universities, and Scouts/Guides. The details are listed on the National Astronomy Week website.[3] The event was widely announced in the UK, for example in Astronomy & Geophysics magazine,[4] and there is also information on the NAW Twitter page[5] and on Facebook.[6] A special event radio station, call sign GB1NAW, transmitted from Lockyer Technology Centre during National Astronomy Week (and the week preceding), between 7.060 MHz and 7.200 MHz LSB (Lower Side Band) during daylight hours and between 3.600 MHz and 3.800 MHz LSB after dusk.

Sponsorship and funding

National Astronomy Week is sponsored (and funded) by some of the most significant science organisations in the UK, including the Science & Technology Facilities Council and the Royal Astronomical Society.

See also


  1. "Target Jupiter: National Astronomy Week 2014". Astronomy & Geophysics. astrogeo.oxfordjournals. 54 (2): 2. 2013. doi:10.1093/astrogeo/att006. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  2. "Syon Park: Sunday 26th July 2009". National Astronomy Week. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  3. "Coming! 1st to 8th March 2014". NAW. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  4. "Target Jupiter: National Astronomy Week 2014". Astronomy & Geophysics. astrogeo.oxfordjournals. 54 (2): 2. 2013. doi:10.1093/astrogeo/att006. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  5. NAW2014 on Twitter
  6. NAW2014 on Facebook
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