Newsletter to the SPoCs

10 July 2008

Dear SpoCs,

The IYA2009 newsletter for this week:

Organisational Matters:

Presently we have 118 National Nodes and 23 Organisational Node. New organizational nodes: World Space Week and the European Network of Science Centres and Museums

We are proud to announce that Armagh Planetarium is our latest IYA2009 Organisational Associate.  Please visit Armagh Planetarium website:


Statement on the occasion of the International Year of Astronomy 2009

The Director-General of UNESCO and the President of the IAU are pleased to announce the decision to declare 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, and the designation by the UN of UNESCO as the lead agency, in collaboration with IAU, in the implementation of scientific, educational and cultural activities during the Year.

Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition

José Francisco Salgado's now world-famous multimedia concepts is a hot topic for IYA2009. He has agreed to a special offer to all the SPoCs with is new Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition. It is is a suite of high-definition videos that takes viewers through a virtual gallery featuring awe-inspiring visualizations of the cosmos. Read more about it on

Cornerstones and Special projects:

Universe Awareness

A message from Carolina Ödman, the Universe Awareness Cornerstone project chair:

"Dear all,

In order to facilitate the establishment of new Universe Awareness projects and initatives, we have put together a toolkit with some resources and guidelines for you to use. In this toolkit you will find an organisational framework to set up a project, a nationwide programme, a website and report on your activities. It also includes a template website that you can adapt at your will.

Universe Awareness is an organisation made up of the sum of its parts. We are a diverse international community encompassing different learning environments, approaches, structures and people. We therefore welcome the participation of all who subscribe to the goal of bringing the beauty of the universe to young children worldwide to make a difference.

The UNAWE International Office is here to support your efforts. We invite you to join the international UNAWE community with your UNAWE project and share materials, knowledge and experiences with our growing network. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me directly at .

The toolkit is available here:

Warm regards,


100 Hours of Astronomy

Some news about 100 Hours of Astronomy:

 The 100 Hours Of Astronomy will take place from 2-5 April 2009. The Moon is at first quarter on 2 April so it is at a good phase for early evening observing over this period. Saturn will be the other highlight of observing events in the early evening.

This event consists of five main parts:

1.                    An opening event featuring the telescope Galileo used to make his groundbreaking observations.

2.                    Events at science centres, including planetariums and science museums, at which enhanced outreach programmes will be expedited through participation of amateur astronomy groups holding public observing sessions and other activities related to the science centres' regular programmes and missions.

3.                    School programmes, in which groups of astronomy enthusiasts such as astronomy clubs conduct educational sessions that include observing and other educational opportunities.

4.                    Live observatory webcasts, observing events and other activities connecting large observatories around the world.

5.                    Sidewalk astronomy, in which telescopes are made available to the public within population centres in order to maximise the number of people who observe through them.

Each part will be scheduled so as to maximise its impact, while supporting the others with activities and publicity.

Please feel free to contact the Task Group if you have any question regarding the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project:

IYA2009 Special projects

The guidelines for the selection of Special Projects are available here:  The category of IYA2009 Special Projects is intended to give large global projects (which satisfy the vision of IYA2009) greater international recognition and an opportunity to link with celebrations worldwide.  We welcome application from any global projects which fits the criteria defined the IYA2009 Executive Committee Working Group.


Report from ASP/AAS St. Louis Meeting by Douglas Isbell (US SPoC)

From the perspective of the US IYA 2009 program committee and its 10 volunteer-led working groups, the AAS/ASP symposium in St. Louis was a major success. 

Attendance at the weekend workshops (~175 people) and the subsequent three days session of panels, posters and presentations (~200) was strong, and we've received numerous messages of appreciation and intent to use the workshop materials and activities in 2009.  Many positive comments were heard on the opening plenary talk by IAU President Catherine Cesarsky (and we thank her for traveling such a long distance to present it).  The public lecture by Dava Sobel was very engaging, especially the extensive question-and-answer session after her talk on Galileo and "How the Telescope Changed Everything."

Perhaps the biggest hit of the IYA portion of the meeting was the first prototype of the Galileoscope.   This prototype was realized thanks to extensive design and development work led by Stephen Pompea of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (also the US project director for IYA 2009), and some extraordinary extra effort by Doug Arion of Carthage College, who obtained support from his administration to produce a rapid-prototype plastic model.  From the outreach professionals at the ASP meeting to the astronomers on the AAS side, everyone seemed excited by the potential of the Galileoscope and the plans for related optics education curriculum materials.   We also took away a growing list of people interested in receiving future e-mail updates on it.

The best factual evidence for the success of the meeting was a very instructive informal, low-cost summative evaluation done by Mary Dussault of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics during the closing plenary of the IYA symposium.  Using simple paper note cards, Mary surveyed the 74 plenary participants using dashed lines to represent a seven point scale.  When asked how much they knew about IYA materials a week earlier, the participants responded with an average score of 3.5.  When asked how much they knew after the meeting, the average score was 6.0.  When asked how likely they were to use some of the IYA materials from the meeting, the score was around 6.5.  The average number of IYA-related sessions they attended was 5.5.  All of these numbers are very encouraging and demonstrate both the interest in IYA, as well as the amazing organizational effort put forth by the ASP and Andy Fraknoi of Foothill Community College to harness and develop the volunteer enthusiasm in IYA.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that the US IYA program committee will launch a new this newsletter as an official publication of the US IYA 2009 effort, and we intend to provide the regular updates and content tips that you need to plan first-class IYA 2009 events in your community. More information:  As always, also keep an eye on the US website at Once again, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Upcoming IYA2009 meetings:

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

 Kind regards,

Pedro, Lars and Mariana

IYA2009 Secretariat

Organisational Associates:

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