Brief Status Report on the International Year of Astronomy 2009

29 May 2009

The year 2009 will be remembered for many reasons, but the IYA2009 will hopefully be memorable for all astronomers - hobbyists as well as professionals. The IYA2009 fosters a global appreciation of the role and value of science, technology and astronomy as a unifying activity for humanity. The IYA2009 is a global endeavour, promoting astronomy and its contribution to society and culture. There is a strong emphasis on education and public engagement. The response from all the corners of the world has been extremely positive and encouraging, making the Year a great success already. This report outlines the status of its main projects and activities.

Participating Nations and Organisations

As of 27 May 2009, 141 National Nodes have signed up to participate in the IYA2009. Innumerable professional and amateur astronomers, educators, communicators and enthusiasts have invested time, resources and passion into organising local, regional, national and global activities. The full list can be consulted on the IYA2009 website:

The most recent National Nodes are Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Maldives, Zambia, Fiji Islands, Grenada and Palestine.

The IAU is still welcoming suggestions for IYA2009 Single Points of Contact from countries or organisations that are not yet involved. Based on the report on the state of astronomy development by country, compiled by John Hearnshaw (IAU Commission 46), the IYA2009 Secretariat is particularly keen to establish contact with the following countries (in the Worldwide Development of Astronomy Programme Group ( Brunei, Barbados, Liechtenstein, Mauritius, Monaco and San Marino.

Organisational Associates

The IYA2009 Organisational Associates are organisations, institutions and agencies related to astronomy, space science and natural science that provide financial support for the global coordination of IYA2009. Please check the full list on the IYA2009 website:

The most recently joined Organisational Associates are EAS, NRAO, CEA and KASI. The IAU still welcomes organisations, institutions and agencies that wish to join the IYA2009 Organisational Associates, for more information please contact the IYA2009 Secretariat:


The IYA2009 Secretariat has produced a wide array of resources that can be used by laypeople and participants in the IYA2009. These include trailers, brochures and presentations, easily accessible through the website:

The public is free to use them in activities and events during 2009.


IYA2009 Cornerstone Projects

We would just like to highlight some of the achievements so far: 100 Hours of Astronomy was a major success, with more than 1 million people participating in events such as a global star party, the live 24-hour webcast "Around the World in 80 Telescopes", a Science Centre webcast, and Sun Day. As of May 2009, 60 000 Galileoscopes have been produced, 4000 of which will be donated to organisations and schools in developing countries, in collaboration with the Developing Astronomy Globally Cornerstone project. The Cosmic Diary has more than 60 professional scientists blogging from 28+ countries. To date there are over 1000 individual blog posts, which have attracted more than 55 000 unique visitors. In its first month of operation the Portal to the Universe had more than 12 000 news and blog posts indexed, which were read by more than 40 000 unique visitors. She is an Astronomer launched its own dedicated website on 21 April 2009. During IYA2009, GLOBE at Night, a programme in the Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone, set a new record, with 80% more observations of the world's dark skies than the programme's previous best. The worldwide response to the FETTU project continues to be astounding. As of May 2009, over 55 countries around the world have signed up to host FETTU exhibits in more than 200 separate locations ranging from Brazil to Bulgaria and from Uruguay to the United States. 

Following the unprecedented success of the IYA2009's 100 Hours of Astronomy, another weekend of astronomy events has been lined up for 23-24 October 2009. This new IYA2009 Cornerstone project is called Galilean Nights and will see amateur and professional astronomers around the globe taking to the streets, pointing their telescopes at the wonders that Galileo observed 400 years ago. The project's focus is sidewalk observations of the gas giant Jupiter and its moons, and members of the public will also be able to observe the Sun, our own Moon and many more celestial marvels with their own eyes, much as Galileo did 400 years ago.

The list of IYA2009 Cornerstone Project is available on:

IYA2009 Special Projects

While the focus of the global activities will rest on the Cornerstones, will also contribute towards the vision and goals of IYA2009. The list of IYA2009 Special Project is available on:

The most recent Special projects is:

  • GalileoMobile: GalileoMobile is an itinerant science education project bringing IYA2009 to young underprivileged people across South America, to foster a will of learning by exciting wonder about our Universe, while supplying local teachers with educational resources to sustain our activities. More information:

Final Remarks

Although 1 January 2009 marked the "real" beginning of the IYA2009, this immense worldwide science outreach and education programme began more than six years earlier with the IAU's initiative during the IAU General Assembly in 2003. The IYA2009 aims to unite nations under the umbrella of astronomy and science, while at the same time acknowledging cultural, national and regional diversity. Never before has such a network of scientists, amateur astronomers, educators, journalists and scientific institutions come together. IYA2009 is, thanks to many of you, truly the largest network in astronomy.

As the IYA2009 comes to an end, we will join in a celebration of astronomy and astronomical experiences. The Closing Ceremony is in preparation and will take place on 9-10 January 2010 in Padua, Italy and we believe that the momentum generated by the end of IYA2009 will leave a lasting legacy for global astronomy and the IAU.


Pedro Russo, IYA2009 Global Coordinator 

Lars Lindberg Christensen IAU IYA2009 Secretariat Manager/IAU IYA2009 EC WG Secretary 

On-behalf of the IAU IYA2009 EC WG and IYA2009 Secretariat


Organisational Associates:

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