IYA2009 Updates

Cosmic Diary Closing Ceremony Live Blog

8 January 2010

Follow the adventures of the intrepid IYA2009 Secretariat staff writer and Cosmic Diary live blogger Lee Pullen, as he tells all you need to know about what is going on in Padova, Italy, before, during and after the IYA2009 Closing Ceremony.


A NASA Goddard Finale to the International Year of Astronomy

8 January 2010

The Visitor Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. presents a one-of-a-kind event featuring expert Hubble scientist Dr. David Leckrone on Wednesday, January 13, 2010.
Dr. Leckrone will recount his experiences as Senior Scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope for more than two decades. He will delve into the rollercoaster ride that was Servicing Mission 4—the last Shuttle servicing mission to the famed telescope. He will showcase some of the stunning images recently taken with Hubble’s newly installed and repaired instruments.
A special preview of Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, will follow Dr. Leckrone’s presentation. Dr. Jonathan Gardner, JWST Deputy Senior Project Scientist, will discuss the next-generation space observatory that will explore deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars.

The Goddard Visitor Center will host this free, one-hour lecture on January 13, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. Arrive at 6:30 p.m. to enjoy a captivating visual experience, Science on a Sphere, and use astronaut gloves to examine and operate tools from Hubble Servicing Mission 4.

While the universe is infinite, space for this event is limited. To reserve your seat, go to: http://education.gsfc.nasa.gov/iyaf.

For directions to the Goddard Visitor Center, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/visitor/directions/index.html

The Sky - Yours to Discover update

8 January 2010

Children and young people from all five continents were invited to look directly at the skies, identify stars, connect stars with imaginary lines and create new constellations. The Penguin, the Elephant, the Mermaid and even Benjamin Franklin were found in the skies during 2009.
The special project "The Sky - Yours to Discover" involved associated partners in Australia, USA, Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela in America, Portugal, United Kingdom, Romania and Slovenia in Europe, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Ghana and Kenya in Africa, India, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia in Asia.

Ric and Jean Edelman Give 15,000 Galileoscopes to Classrooms in the US

6 January 2010

Hundreds of thousands of school children around the country will be a ble to explore the Moon, planets, and our galaxy thanks to a $250,000 donation by Ric and Jean Edelman.

The Edelmans, founders of Edelman Financial Services, one of the country’s leading independent financial advisory firms, have donated $250,000 to the American Astronomical Society to fund the acquisition and distribution of more than 15,000 Galileoscopes to schoolteachers nationwide and train them on adding the telescope kits to their curriculum. The program is operated in partnership with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

The Galileoscope is a high-quality, low-cost telescope designed for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy that enables its users to see celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago, including the craters of the Moon, Saturn’s rings, and four moons circling Jupiter. Long-time astronomy buffs, Ric and Jean are making the donation to help improve math, science, and technology literacy in America’s classrooms.

“The Edelman Galileoscope will enable thousands of teachers to reveal the mysteries of the universe to their hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren across the country,” said Ric Edelman, chairman and CEO of Edelman Financial. “Astronomy is the world’s oldest science, and one of the most exciting. We hope to inspire the next generation of scientific discovery by encouraging thousands of students to study math and science, and Jean and I are honored to be a part of this important project.”

The donation Ric and Jean have made to the Galileoscope program will eliminate the financial barrier that many teachers face in bringing high-quality hands-on teaching tools into the classroom.

The more than 15,000 telescopes that they have provided will bring a hands-on learning experience to more than 300,000 students nationwide and train nearly 4,000 teachers in the proper use of the Galileoscope kit in the classroom. “The Edelmans’ generosity and the impact it will have is nothing less than astronomical!” said Kevin Marvel, Executive Officer, American Astronomical Society.

“This donation of Galileoscopes is an important investment in education and greatly appreciated by our Galileoscope project team,” said Stephen Pompea, Manager of Science Education, National Optical Astronomy Observatory. “With these Galileoscopes, a large number of teachers will have a new tool to promote math and science literacy and to illuminate the scientific process. Students in any location, from the largest cities to the most rural areas, can now make their own observations of the Moon and planets and pursue authentic scientific investigations using the standards-based educational activities developed for the Galileoscope.” Pompea added, “The Galileoscope will prove to be an exemplary tool to help students develop the observational and critical thinking skills necessary for our future leaders.”

Ric and Jean have a long-standing fascination with and dedication to the scientific study of celestial objects. The couple funded the Ric and Jean Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University, which includes a 16-inch telescope that feeds live images of the sky to the planetarium’s 40-foot-diameter dome.

In 1987 Ric and Jean Edelman co-founded Edelman Financial Services, which manages more than $4 billion for 12,500 clients nationwide and has 10 offices. Ric Edelman was recently ranked by Barron’s as the No 1 independent financial advisor in the country. He is also a New York Times bestselling author and the host of the nationally syndicated radio program The Ric Edelman Show.

U.S. Legacy Includes Telescope Kit, Dark-Skies Awareness & More

5 January 2010

Although the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) comes to a formal close this weekend with a ceremony in Padua, Italy, numerous core programs conducted during the year will carry on in 2010 and beyond, including many led by educators and outreach professionals in the United States and elsewhere in North America.

“Thanks to the support of the National Science Foundation, NASA, the American Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, as well as the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, we were able to conduct a vigorous, fun and wide-ranging set of programs and events throughout 2009,” says Douglas Isbell, the U.S. Single Point of Contact (SPoC) for IYA2009. “We are thrilled that so many of these efforts will continue to grow, mature, and morph into new projects in the years ahead.”

The United States contributed to the leadership of a half-dozen cornerstone projects for IYA2009 -- in particular, the Galileoscope hands-on telescope kit, a wide variety of dark-skies outreach activities, the reproducible image exhibition known as “From Earth to the Universe,” several creative interactive Web sites and New Media programs, and two global star party weekends.

More than 110,000 of the low-cost, high-quality Galileoscopes have been sold and delivered in 96 countries (including 6,000 donated to developing nations), and another 70,000 are in production. Thanks to a recent $250,000 donation from Ric and Jean Edelman, 15,000 Galileoscopes and related training will be provided to U.S. teachers across the country.

Offered initially at a price of $15 for single orders, the cost of individual kits will increase from $20 to $30 on January 11, when the project is handed over from its founding volunteer staff to an educational products company. In total, the Galileoscope project succeeded beyond all but the wildest expectations of its founding group.

“The ambitious idea of an inexpensive telescope that could be reproduced in large numbers for use around the world was a unanimous goal of IYA2009 coordinators when we all met in Germany in early 2007, and three years later we’re extremely proud of what’s been achieved,” says Rick Fienberg, chair of the IYA2009 Galileoscope Task Group and currently the press officer for the American Astronomical Society.

“The kit-based aspect of the Galileoscope has proven to have strong educational value, and we look forward to many years of teacher workshops and interested individuals using to help them observe the same inspiring objects in the night sky that Galileo saw four-hundred years ago,” says Stephen Pompea, manager of science education at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ, and chair of the U.S. IYA2009 Telescope Kits and Optics Challenges Working Group. Other key contributors to the success of the Galileoscope include Douglas Arion of Carthage College, Tom Smith of Merit Models, and Photon Engineering in Tucson.

IYA2009 fostered a variety of programs to encourage people around the world to enjoy and protect the darkness of their local night skies as a shared resource for all, building in large part upon previous successes coordinated by NOAO, the Tucson-based International Dark-Sky Association and the U.S. national park system.

More than 20,000 measurements of the night sky around the globe were made by citizen scientists during IYA2009, along with the distribution and use of 400 dark-skies education kits, and a variety of creative events, podcasts, photo contests, artistic posters, school presentations and legislative declarations designed to preserve dark skies in local communities and regions.

“The emotional peak of the year for me was probably the 3,400 GLOBE at Night measurements made by one school district in Indiana, which they then visualized using Lego blocks,” says Connie Walker of NOAO, chair of the U.S. and international Dark-Skies Awareness working groups, which included several dozen contributors from around the world. “New programs like the Dark-Sky Rangers, and further editions of star-counting programs such as GLOBE at Night, will help ensure continued attention to the common concerns of environment, economics, science and health that drive this multidisciplinary topic.”

The idea of capitalizing on the amazing visual appeal of many astronomical images was another clear goal for IYA2009, brought to reality by a team led by Kimberly Kowal Arcand and Megan Watzke of the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, MA. The NASA-sponsored “From Earth to the Universe” (FETTU) project enabled more than 500 exhibits of the most beautiful and inspiring large-format astronomical images in nearly 70 countries, including 35 U.S. cities. In the U.S., many of the exhibits were funded by a NASA grant.

“We’re particularly thrilled with the FETTU exhibitions held in non-traditional locations, such as a hallway in the parliament of Iran and a prison in Portugal, and the fact that the images were displayed on every continent but Antarctica,” Arcand says.

FETTU will continue in many forms, including transfer of installations at the Atlanta and Chicago O’Hare international airports to local hospitals. A few remarkable new images released in 2009 (and their related captions) are being added to the online collection, and a“FETTU swap” of used exhibits that remain in good condition is being organized.

Several world-leading IYA2009 programs in New Media managed in the U.S. will continue, such as the “365 Days of Astronomy” podcast and the “Astronomy 2009” island in Second Life, many under the banner of a new non-profit organization called Astrosphere New Media led by IYA2009 New Media Task Group Chair Pamela Gay.“Through IYA2009, we have built a community of content creators,” Gay says. “Thanks to projects like ‘365 Days of Astronomy,’ literally hundreds of voices have found a new way to communicate not just their astronomy content, but also their passion. With Astrosphere, we will be able to keep this community growing and working daily to tell the story of astronomy.”

A month-long repeat of the successful 2009 global star parties “100 Hours of Astronomy” and “Galilean Nights,” with new twists, will be held in April 2010 under the leadership of the group Astronomers Without Borders. The greatest attendance reported at any “100 Hours”event in the U.S. was more than 9,000 at an event with 22 telescopes for public viewing at a U.S. Naval Observatory open house in Washington, DC. Next was the Virginia Living Museum with 5,000-plus people attending a variety of events including observing night and day, planetarium programs and family campouts over the four days. There were 18 events in the US with reported attendance of 500 or more, all of which had telescope viewing.

Overall, many engaged and committed volunteers used the major themes of IYA2009 to conduct yearlong outreach efforts in their local communities. Jason Kendall hosted over 3,000 people at telescope star parties in New York City parks; the Village of Barrington Hills, Illinois, used IYA2009 to gather support for a lighting ordinance to save energy and protect dark skies; Donald Lubowich created a Galileo float for a Columbus Day parade and promoted astronomy at many musical events; and, observatory outreach specialists in Hilo, Hawaii, produced a special newspaper issue devoted to astronomy.

From its conception, the U.S. IYA program was conceived as a North American effort, with active coordination between the central NSF-funded program and the projects supported by NASA (where Hashima Hasan served as the IYA Single Point of Contact), along with regular communications with national IYA2009 nodes in Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

The “Visions of the Universe” traveling exhibit of NASA images was hosted by libraries in 55 small towns and large cities, with more than 72,000 visitors to date. Two multiwavelength images from NASA’s Great Observatories were displayed by 152 science centers and museums, with related synergistic events that attracted more than 15,000 attendees and counting.

NASA IYA Student Ambassadors has engaged college students in all 50 states to spread the excitement of NASA astronomy to their local neighborhoods and beyond. NASA’s “Afterschool Universe” provided IYA2009-related training to community-based organizations, while pre-launch teacher workshops associated with the Kepler and WISE missions engaged educators in the science of these missions.

President Barack Obama and the First Family hosted an IYA2009 star party on the White House lawn in October. “NASA’s IYA2009 programs clearly captured the imagination of the public and will continue to keep it engaged in the scientific exploration of the Universe,” Hasan says.

More than 1.3 million Canadians enjoyed a “Galileo Moment” of personal astronomical discovery by participating in one of the more than 3,500 events throughout the country during 2009, more than 30 percent over their national goal. IYA2009 helped strengthen relations between the three societies representing amateur and professional astronomers in Canada, according to national SPoC James Hesser. Other legacies include newly collected astronomy stories from Aboriginal communities, new outreach materials in English and French, a $30 commemorative coin, and a pair of postal stamps.

Puerto Rico held numerous public events and star parties each month during 2009. More than 45,000 people participated or were impacted by these events, which included the two cornerstone projects”100 Hours of Astronomy” (in which Puerto Rico received the Award of “Most Registered Events by a Single Group”) and FETTU. Puerto Rico followed with great interest and emotion the flight of the first Puerto Rican astronaut, Joseph Acaba, during the STS-119 Space Shuttle mission in March 2009, according to national SPoC Carmen Pantoja. During June and December, Acaba and fellow astronaut Steven Swanson visited Puerto Rico and spoke to thousands of interested people in several locations across the island.

Formal education efforts via the IYA2009 Galileo Teacher Training Program will continue nationally through the involvement and support of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.


To learn more and to join in future events and programs: www.astronomy2009.us (soon to become www.beyond2009.us)

Celestron Celebrates Fifty Years of Optical Innovation

5 January 2010

Celestron is celebrating 50 years of successful telescope innovation throughout 2010. The company, founded in 1960 by electronics engineer, Tom Johnson, started as an astro-optical division of Mr. Johnson’s aerospace electronics firm, Valor Electronics. While searching for a suitable telescope for his two young sons, Tom decided to build a telescope from scratch. Starting with a 6-inch reflector, he progressed to building increasingly larger and more sophisticated designs. Tom’s hobby soon grew into a full-time business, offering Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes in 4-inch to 22-inch models.

Tom’s vision of building an affordable Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope system has evolved into an undisputed industry leading company in the telescope arena. Today, Celestron has grown to enjoy worldwide brand name recognition and a reputation for innovative, reliable optical equipment. “Celestron’s 50th anniversary is a great milestone. When you sit down and consider what Tom Johnson accomplished, you can’t help but be proud and impressed at his vision, leadership and innovation,” said Joseph A. Lupica Jr., president and CEO of Celestron. “Today, Celestron employees carry on Tom’s forward-thinking legacy.”


Throughout the world, Celestron telescopes have become the “telescope of choice” for the consumer that can differentiate between brands. Major observatories, planetariums, colleges and universities worldwide use Celestron telescopes in their astronomy programs. Moreover, its solid and esteemed reputation in the scientific community has reached NASA, who selected Celestron’s C5 telescope as the telescope to be taken on several space shuttle research missions. During the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, the White House held the first documented star party on the White House lawn. President Barack Obama and first lady, Michelle Obama, viewed celestial objects through a Celestron CPC 800.


Throughout 2010, Celestron invites you to visit our special 50th anniversary website where you will find an interactive timeline on Celestron’s history and other notable events in the astronomical community. The website will also feature limited edition 50th anniversary products and apparel, as well as contests and giveaways to celebrate this special milestone. Celestron will also be releasing a 6 part documentary during 2010 entitled “The Path of Light.” This documentary will give you a look back at Celestron’s beginnings and move you forward through 50 years of Celestron’s notable achievements in products, outreach and the astronomical community.


With 50 years under their belt, Celestron is looking toward the future, confident in continuing to focus on engineering innovation and design excellence in all of our product offerings. “We’ve been fortunate in our success over the past 50 years, and would sincerely like to thank our dedicated customers, dealers and employees for putting their trust in Celestron. We couldn’t have done this without you,” said Joseph A. Lupica Jr. “We have many plans ahead to show our support to the astronomical community, continue our dedication to grow astronomy and to engineer products that will be enjoyed for many years to come. It’s going to be a very exciting year!”


Help us celebrate by visiting Celestron’s 50th Anniversary Website www.celestron.com/50 and signing our guest book!


About Celestron


Since designing its first telescope in 1960, Celestron has grown to become the world’s leading telescope maker, and enjoys brand name recognition for superior optics, outstanding design, and innovative technology. For five decades, Celestron has been recognized as a leading designer, manufacturer and importer of high-quality optical products including computerized and non-computerized telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes and related accessories. Celestron’s innovative products continue to receive numerous industry and consumer media accolades, adding to an already impressive list that includes awards for product innovation from Reader’s Digest, Popular Science, PC Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Sky & Telescope, the Consumer Electronics Association and more. Celestron sells and markets its products worldwide through a variety of specialty retail outlets and international distributors. Celestron is a privately held company with corporate offices and manufacturing facilities, in Torrance, CA. For more information about Celestron please visit http://www.celestron.com.




Michelle Meskill

Marketing Manager

310-328-9560 ext. 205


New Website and Non-Profit To Help Sustain IYA2009 Legacy Projects

5 January 2010

As the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) comes to a close, those involved hope to sustain the momentum gained during the year in communicating astronomy with the public. The IYA produced a number of excellent new media projects, creating fresh excitement and enthusiasm for astronomy and science. A new non-profit organization and website have been created to provide a brand- new “home” to sustain IYA projects such as the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast and Second Astronomy in Second Life, as well as other existing and new projects.

Astrosphere New Media Association (http://www.astrosphere.org/) is dedicated to promoting science and skeptical thought through Internet-based technologies and distribution. Its efforts are focused on the creation of technologies and content that enable better astronomy communications and greater astronomy content access for the public.

The projects encompassed by Astrosphere New Media include the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, Second Life, the popular Astronomy Cast podcast and a new project for 2010, We Are Astronomers. Additionally, Astrosphere will be hosting the archival websites from the US IYA2009 program.

The Internet provides a new way for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts to communicate and interact with the public. Astronomy communicators can use these new forms of communication -- such as blogs, podcasts, social networks, interactive data tools, and community content sites (such as wikis) -- to provide the public with dynamic web content through Web 2.0 technologies.

Astrosphere New Media Association will help facilitate this “new media” and new forms of communication for astronomy.“This project rose out of two needs,” said Dr. Pamela Gay, Executive Director. “There are many of us working together in our spare time to communicate astronomy to the world. We’re building tools, writing content, and then giving it all away. What we needed was a central advocate who could work to find us a little funding for travel and servers and just help us get what we do out to the world. Astrosphere is here to be that advocate, and to provide IYA projects a home beyond 2009.”

The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is a community project that “airs” one podcast per day, 5 to 10 minutes in duration, for all 365 days of the year. The podcast episodes are written, recorded and produced by people around the world who donate a few minutes to share their passion for astronomy.

Second Astronomy (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Astronomy%202009/) takes real world events into virtual realities, allowing the citizens of Second Life (TM) a way to experience projects such as From Earth to the Universe and The World at Night. In early 2010, Second Astronomy will showcase John Gleason’s h-alpha astrophotography and roll out walkable, island size Spitzer MIPSGAL/GLIMPSE image. Later in the year, new virtual ‘as the eye sees’ telescopes pop up around the island, creating a star party atmosphere and building a cultural astronomy “sky stories” experience.

Astronomy Cast takes a facts-based journey through the Universe each week with Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (Star Stryder). The podcasts are available online at http://www.astronomycast.com/ or through iTunes


We Are Astronomers is a Beyond 2009 project that looks to capture the diversity of who we are as astronomers through pictures and videos. Astronomers include professionals, amateurs, and armchair enthusiasts. To find out how you can help, email info@WeAreAstronomers.org.

Other new media science and astronomy projects and even skepticism projects looking for collaborators, direction, support or a “home” are welcome to contact Astrosphere New Media Association at:

Astrosphere New Media Association

P.O. Box 804

Edwardsville, IL 62025

email: info@astrosphere.org

Big Dipper to Southern Cross: Remote Observing for All

5 January 2010

Join others from around the world in sharing our sky -- north and south -- LIVE on 8 and 10 January

The southern Milky Way can be so bright that on a clear moonless night it will cause shadows, yet it is something people living in the northern hemisphere only hear stories of. In the same way, the beauty and objects of the northern sky are a mystery to southern residents.

Big Dipper to Southern Cross brings these two hemispheres together -- truly One People, One Sky.

For this project there will be two telescopes -- one in the northern hemisphere and one in the south -- on two different nights. No experience is needed. This is a chance to watch as an experienced telescope operator and guide show how they capture the wonders of the night sky.

Join other members of AWB Affiliates around the world. Chat will be available between participants and with the telescope operator. Join in or just watch.

See the AWB Big Dipper to Southern Cross web page for more information.

StarPeace Newsletter

4 January 2010

Happy New Year!

The winter came and the International Year of Astronomy has gone. For sure it is not the end of StarPeace. IYA 2009 was a beginning for peace and astronomy promoters around the world. We have new plans for 2010 and beyond. Below is a short text about StarPeace achievements during IYA 2009;

StarPeace born in October 2008 in purpose of promoting knowledge of astronomy in rural and border areas, especially between young people, to show them there is only one Earth and we should help each other to protect it, that’s why we need to be in peace.

After one year of hard work, now 37 active groups from 28 countries are members of StarPeace. Many events are organized in different countries in cooperation with ambassadors of StarPeace around the world 

One of the main goals of StarPeace is to make a network of groups from different countries in all continents, to promote science and peace, and now it happened. Furthermore, StarPeace cooperates with Environmental projects to inform people about importance of environmental conservation.


Recent StarPeace events around the world

Below is the link to the video clip from StarPeace Philippines-Indonesia as seen from Astrocamp Observatory SMBY Park in Philippines on December 4:

  • StarPeace built bridges between 4 countries on World Science Day 
    Four StarPeace clubs in four neighboring countries Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria held joint star parties on World Science Day, November 10.

StarPeace has participants from all continents except Antarctica! To check StarPeace clubs on 6 continents go to http://www.starpeace.org/En/Clubs/Default.aspx


Latest StarPeace news around the world

  • As we are toward the end of International Year of Astronomy 2009 StarPeace clubs all around the world are holding the closing ceremony of IYA 2009 and StarPeace project in this year, although it is not the end of StarPeace project.

In Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Oman and other countries participated in StarPeace public star parties, public sessions and parties were held as the closing ceremony of IYA 2009 and a new beginning for StarPeace.

  • During “World Science Day for Peace and Development” ceremony in Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, StarPeace was presented as one of the selected projects which its goals are aligned with UNESCO main goals as promoting science and peace.

StarPeace in Media

  • IMRADIO: StarPeace Song "Stars in the Sky" by Patty Rayfield is being played on IMRADIO every day.

  • UNESCO: The StarPeace clubs cerebrated World Science Day by going to their borders and organizing a joint public star party with neighboring countries. Syria, Iraq, Iran and Azerbaijan are four countries who participated in this programme.

Nightshade astronomy simulator launched

4 January 2010

Nightshade is open source astronomy simulation and visualization software specifically tailored to digital planetarium and educator use. More information: http://nightshadesoftware.org/

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Organisational Associates:

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the United Nations and the International Council of Science.