On Thursday, 130 countries joined astronomers around the world for a 100-hour stargazing marathon. With more than 1,500 events, the mass event could potentially draw more than a million people, busting all records for participation in astronomy.

The 100 HA event is aimed at “celebrating the night sky” and nurturing the “Galileos of tomorrow.”

“One of the key goals of 100 HA is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo Galilee did for the first time 400 years ago,” said Frederick Gabriana, the national organizer of 100 HA.

“It is a round-the-clock, round-the-globe event, including live webcasts from research observatories, public observing events and other activities around the world,” he said.

The 100 Hours of Astronomy is a cornerstone event of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA).

Local astronomical associations intend to set up telescopes in streets and parks for passers-by to glimpse through and provide sky shows in retirement homes and military bases.

The Paris-based International Astronomical Union (IAU) said the exercise has been “400 years in the making,” referring to observations made in 1609 by Galileo that swept away people’s conception of the universe.

A traveling exhibit highlights key astronomical discoveries made since Galileo turned his telescope to the heavens 400 years ago.

It is a sense of discovery and awe that astronomers wish to share with our fellow citizens all over the world, says IAU president Catherine Cesarsky.

Meanwhile, When the 100 Hours parties are winding down, the Yuri's Night parties will just be getting started. The first Yuri's Night was held back on April 12, 2001, to mark the 40th anniversary of the first human spaceflight.