IYA2009 Updates

Experience a virtual journey to the lunar Peak of Eternal Light during IYA2009

28 July 2009

The first public showing of 'The Peak of Eternal Light', a new movie created using images taken by ESA's SMART-1 lunar orbiter, took place on 20 July 2009 at the Ars Electronica Center (AEC), Linz, Austria. This movie was shown as part of a special event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, during this International Year of Astronomy. More information: http://astronomy2009.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=45347

International Astronomical Union celebrates its 90th anniversary during IYA2009

28 July 2009

Of the many special anniversaries occurring throughout 2009, one of the most important marks 90 years since the formation of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Founded in 1919, the IAU's mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU initiated IYA2009 in 2003 and continues to be a primary driving force, ensuring that it a project of global scope and with achievable aims.

The IAU organises many large-scale conferences but is perhaps best known for its role in naming astronomical objects such as planets and asteroids, as well as any notable features on them. IAU members are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, and active in professional research and education in astronomy. The IAU has 9259 Individual Members in 87 countries worldwide. Of those countries, 64 are National Members. In addition, the IAU collaborates with various organisations all over the world.

Astronomy is at the forefront of modern science and technology. Many believe that astronomy is living in a golden age, with the IAU playing a major role within the community and beyond. IYA2009 will be a long-standing legacy of the IAU, bringing the Universe down to Earth for many years to come.

For more information about the IAU, please consult the official website:




Lunar mosaic earns a Guinness World Record

27 July 2009

A team of astronomers in the UK have used specialist cameras and high-end amateur telescopes to produce a professional-quality mosaic of the Moon - earning them a Guinness World Record.

The enthusiasts recorded nearly 1000 image panes and 1.2 million frames of video, altogether totalling 1.1 terabytes of data. These were then digitally stitched together to create the mosaic. The final image incorporates 288 panes resulting in an incredible 87.4 megapixel image of the lunar landscape. Amazingly, features as small as 1km in size can be seen, besting some images taken with large professional observatories.

Guinness World Records presented the team with their certificate at an event hosted by the famous British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who helped with the project.

The final image will be displayed at planetariums around the UK, and is also available to buy. All money raised will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust charity.

Learn more about this incredible project via its official website: http://www.lunarworldrecord.com


UNESCO Member States donate Galileoscopes

27 July 2009

Galileoscopes are low-cost telescopes designed to let curious eyes peer at the night sky and unveil secrets of the heavens. Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are ensuring that as many countries as possible will receive some of these instruments. The following countries will each receive a minimum of 100 Galileoscopes: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda


To learn more about Galileoscopes, please visit the official website: https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/


Romania boosts IYA2009 with two high-profile events

27 July 2009

Romanian IYA2009 enthusiasts are rightfully proud of two initiatives which have proved to be very successful.

Astroclubul Bucure?ti (AB), the astronomical club in Bucharest, celebrated She is an Astronomer simultaneously across the entire country on 8 March - Women's Day. Women and girls from several astronomy clubs in Romania went out onto the streets to demonstrate that astronomy is accessible to women. Over the course of one day there were 72 news clips, 10 participating cities across the country, solar observations, drawings, conferences, night observations, and a special gift for all women: the IYA2009 logo with a red and white lace, a token of spring given to all women during this day as a Romanian tradition.

In Bucharest, the Astronomical Observatory and two astronomy clubs, SARM and AB, joined together to organise what was to be the biggest astronomical event dedicated to the public that the capital city of Romania has ever seen. For the 100 Hours of Astronomy project there was one press conference, 80 news clips, four days totaling over 30 solid hours of astronomy for the public consisting of conferences, live web casts, observations, and movie projections. Approximately 3620 people observed through telescopes, an amazing number especially considering that it was organised by a small team of 11 astronomers. 

More details and photos can be found on the following sites:

IYA2009 Update

27 July 2009

Best Teaching Prize - telescope time for your students
Invitation to submit ideas for Best Teaching Prize - telescope time for your students. This Best Teaching Prize is an initiative put forth by MyTelescope.com to commemorate IYA2009. 400 hours of student telescope time awarded primarily on the basis of teacher submitted ideas. More information here: http://www.mytelescope.com/promo-capella/details-teachingPrizes.html

Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010
The conference "Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010 - communicating in IYA2009 legacy era" will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 15 to 19 March, 2010: http://www.communicatingastronomy.org/cap2010/index.html

Gran Telescopio CANARIAS inaugurated during IYA2009
The Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) will be inaugurated at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on 24 July 2009, by their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain. The official GTC website is: http://www.gtc.iac.es/en/
More information about the inauguration is available here: http://www.iac.es/gtcinauguracion/index.php?lang=en

Job opportunity
Freelancing Web Developer for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project: Galilean Nights. We are looking for a person with proven web development skills and experience with running web applications in the cloud (using e.g. Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services or similar) and who will help us share the excitement of astronomy through the Galilean Nights Cornerstone project of IYA2009. For more information, see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/380/

Solar eclipse broadcast on the internet for IYA2009
22 July featured the longest solar eclipse of the 21st Century. For details of the broadcasts, please visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/379/

The Cosmic Detective helps you discover the Universe in several languages
The Cosmic Detective, an official IYA2009 book, has been translated into several languages and is enjoying great success. To read more, see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/375/

IYA2009 and astronomy making headlines in Iberian Peninsula
Astronomy is a popular topic with the media, and with the additional publicity afforded by IYA2009, it is good to see prominent newspapers increasing their coverage. For two examples, see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/378/

Good news for dark skies in Wales, UK
The Welsh Assembly has voiced its support for dark skies. They have officially stated that the Assembly:
Supports the British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies;
Regrets the cost of poor artificial lighting to the environment and ecosystem;
Acknowledges that the quality of many people's lives is seriously degraded by poor-quality exterior lighting;
Calls for a nationwide campaign to discourage floodlighting, over-bright and poorly directed light;
Calls on Visit Wales to promote the aesthetic and scientific value of dark sky in Wales.
For more information, please see: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-guide-docs-pub/bus-business-documents/bus-business-documents-state-opinion.htm?act=dis&id=137490&ds=7/2009

New Moon landing edition of Star Walk
The new Moon landing edition of Star Walk (official product of IYA2009) has been launched with a Digital Compass and Help Guide upgrade! Star Walk would love to celebrate this important event with you. Whether you are planning to do something special for this day like visiting a planetarium, watching some documentaries or simply teach your children about Apollo 11 or you will try to remember what you or your dad did on that day in 1969, we would like to listen to your stories and to award you with a prize. See http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/376/ for details.

During IYA2009, the world celebrates 40 years since the Moon landings
When thinking about pivotal moments in the history of mankind, the Moon landings of 1969 will be at the top of many people's lists. It was the first time that we had left the planet Earth and set foot on a different world. People from all nations joined together to watch the spectacle as history was made.

40 years on, the impact of this momentous occasion is still being felt. It is fitting that the anniversary falls within the International Year of Astronomy 2009, as the Apollo 11 mission of 1969 popularised astronomy and brought it to the forefront of people's minds, much as IYA2009 itself aims to do. Se hear more about the Moon landings and IYA2009, please visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/374/

News round-up, 24 July

24 July 2009

News round-up, 24 July

What's been making the headlines this week? ASTRONOMY! And IYA2009! Yay!

The eclipse has been big news, so we'll begin with that. Over to the strangely-named The Nut Graph who have not only covered the eclipse, but also gone one better and included a diagram of how these celestial coincidences occur. They also give mentions to 100 Hours of Astronomy and Dark Skies Awareness, so they definitely deserve top spot in this week's round-up. Bet that makes it all worth it eh, Nut Graph? The Times of India also talks about the eclipse, and says that it was particularly special because it fell within IYA2009. Thanks, Times of India! Double-thanks actually, because you talk about the eclipse and IYA2009 again, in this article. You kind-of get top billing too, as you're in the first paragraph.

More eclipse fever comes courtesy of Express Buzz and their delightful tale of children in the Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram. 375 students celebrated the eclipse and IYA2009 by using solar filters they had made in school to observe the Sun. Another novel way to safely observe the spectacle was through a "sooryadarshini", which has a lens pasted to a coconut shell, filled with mud, and fixed over a lunch box. The Sun's rays are caught in a screen and then using an ice-cream ball fixed to a straw, an eclipse is re-created. Think I'll stick with my safety filters, if it's all the same to you. The children also kept a diary of their experiences and some shared these with their colleagues during assembly.

Malta is a country that has embraced IYA2009, so we should let them know our appreciation. And what better way than highlighting an article by The Malta Independent Online. It gives a whistle-stop tour of modern astronomy, with emphasis on the Moon landings and Maltese astronomy activities taking place this year.

To Canada, where Canada.com report that a "goodwill Moon rock" is going back on display. The piece of lunar landscape was gifted to Canada in 1972, but has been sitting in the Canadian Museum of Nature's archives and storage facility for nearly 30 years. Talk about ungrateful! But it's going on display because of the Moon landing anniversary and IYA2009. Observant readers will notice that the first paragraph of the article is just the image caption copied and pasted. It wouldn't be so bad, but they're right next to each other. Shoddy.

Finally, Galileoscope news, this week from The Journal Times. Taking a local perspective of our favourite low-cost telescope (they were designed within The Journal Times' geographic catchment area), there are plenty of facts and figures are given. Great if you like that sort of thing.

Ok, that's your lot. Check local sources for news in your own language, y'hear?


Best Teaching Prize - Telescope Time for Your Students

23 July 2009

Invitation to submit ideas for Best Teaching Prize - Telescope Time for Your Students. This Best Teaching Prize is an initiative put forth by MyTelescope.com to commemorate the International Year of Astronomy. 400 hours of student telescope time awarded primarily on the basis of teacher submitted ideas.

More information here:http://www.mytelescope.com/promo-capella/details-teachingPrizes.html


Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010

23 July 2009

The conference "Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010 - communicating in IYA2009 legacy era" will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 15 to 19 March, 2010: http://www.communicatingastronomy.org/cap2010/index.html

 Following the previous conferences in this series, it aims to answer the modern challenges in astronomy communication through a global perspective. A major theme of CAP2010 will be the outcome and legacy of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and techniques for how to make public astronomical knowledge global and accessible to everyone across national, language, political, social and cultural borders and impairment limitations.

This conference builds on the astounding success of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). It will bring together producers of astronomical information (research scientists), public information officers (connected with large observatories and space missions), and mediators (science reporters and writers, staff members from museums, planetariums). A major theme of CAP2010 is be the outcome of the IYA2009 activities, their evaluation and plans for future work. Furthermore, as this meeting will be held in South Africa, another major theme will be ‘stimulating astronomical communication in the emerging world'.

Some of the key topics of CAP2010 are:

     * Reports from IYA2009 National Nodes, Organisational Nodes, Cornerstone projects with an emphasis on the IYA2009 legacy

     * Challenges and successes: Case studies from real life

    * Crowdsourcing/Citizen science projects

     * Communicating in the social networking/Web 2.0 mediascape:


     * Audiovisual & multimedia communication incl. tools and techniques

     * News ways to exploit and visualize astronomical data.

     * Social impact and evaluation of astronomy communication

     * Alternative ways of communicating

     * EPO Clearinghouses: Portal to the Universe, COMpadre, etc.

     * Evaluation and lessons for the future

Second announcement with info on fees, local events and a call for papers is planned for 24 August 2009. Note that there will not be sessions in parallel so the number of oral talks is limited.

It is planned that the Wednesday afternoon will be free for a "social event". Other events will likely be planned at the two weekends (possibly a visit to SALT: http://www.salt.ac.za). Please register your interest in this conference on the mailing list at: http://www.communicatingastronomy.org/cap2010/mailinglist.html


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Organisational Associates:

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