IYA2009 Updates

Seeing in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Style

13 November 2008

The South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland opens its doors to the public for the entire night of New Year's Eve 2008!

For the first time in the long history of the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland, members of the public will be allowed access to the telescopes (including the world famous Southern African Large Telescope, or SALT) in this otherwise restricted research area for one entire night - new year's eve 2008! As word of this decision leaked out, astronomy enthusiasts from all over the country, recognizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, have already begun planning their trips to this small town in the Northern Cape, which has for a long time carried a "stellar" reputation.

"We have decided to go ahead and dedicate the use of the observatory on the night of 31st December 2008 to a public event in Sutherland" said Prof Phil Charles, director of the observatory. "This is in recognition of the significance of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and the importance of encouraging and enhancing the public's participation in astronomy"

The locals in Sutherland have also rallied together to make this an unforgettable celebration. Guest house owners, community development workers, the local municipality, as well as members of the community, have all joined forces to host a Sutherland New Year's celebration like no other.

The week long build up to 2009 kicks off on Boxing Day with free daytime tours to the observatory (including SALT) every-hour-on-the-hour, culminating in the now very popular "Essential Astronomy" presentation and Q&A every afternoon with astronomers. This 2-hour presentation is aimed at absolutely everyone, no matter what your knowledge or background, and is guaranteed to change your perspective of the universe. Also, every evening for that week there will be guided stargazing through visitor telescopes, where people can get a taste of the impeccable Sutherland skies, reputed to be so clear that on a moonless night one can walk around comfortably just by the starlight.

On the evening of New Year's Eve, a large (but restricted) number of people will be allowed onto the observatory plateau to set up their telescopes, long exposure cameras, deck chairs and sleeping bags - whatever they wish to bring (except for alcohol of course - a standard restriction in the telescope domes due to the risks to sensitive equipment). From this spectacular vantage point they will enjoy the last sunset of 2008. During the night they will have access to both the research telescopes and visitor facilities, but most importantly to the amazing night sky at one of the world's best astronomical sites. Then, after welcoming the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) at midnight, and a little more stargazing, they will experience the first sunrise of 2009 from what has often been described to feel like the top of the world.

But all this is just what will be happening at the observatory itself. In the meantime, 18km away, the little town of Sutherland will come alive that week with music, parties, food stalls and events, as well as portable telescopes. Visitors will have the choice of staying in guest houses, hostel accommodation or even camping sites. Sutherland has tourists visiting all year round and is well equipped to cater for everyone's needs - no doubt this event will have the town bursting at the seams though.

Note that space is limited! To keep the number of people at the research telescopes to a manageable amount, bookings are essential and a standard fee will apply. All funds raised above the cost of the event will go towards the education and outreach programmes conducted by the observatory. Watch the IYA2009 website for booking details (www.astronomy2009.org.za).

Kevin Govender
IYA2009 SPoC - South Africa


TWAN on-line shop has opened!

12 November 2008

TWAN on-line shop has opened: http://www.cafepress.com/twanshop

The World at Night Programs Starts in India

12 November 2008

Night sky photography workshop and an exhibition in India starts TWAN major worldwide events for International Year of Astronomy 2009 and beyond.

More information: http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/news.asp?newsID=6017

Spanish translations of FETTU image captions are now available

12 November 2008

Download the master captions list on the documents page to access the FETTU image captions in Spanish. More information: http://www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org/documents.php

Newsletter: News, Events and Project Updates

11 November 2008

Job opportunity: 100 Hours of Astronomy Project Coordinator

The 100HA Cornerstone project is in need of a coordinator to organise and supervise a team of volunteers, manage website content, participate in the creation of fliers, brochures, posters and other information resources, communicate with national and local organisers worldwide, respond to enquiries, meet with potential sponsors and otherwise assure the development of programmes and resources. Essential skills include verbal and written communication in English, proven ability of working with people, and organising team efforts.
If you, or someone you know, meets the criteria and think they are up to the challenge, then click to learn more: http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/about/coordinator.html

Royalty supports IYA2009
Prince Felipe of Spain (Prince of Asturias) is presiding over the Spanish IYA2009 Honour Committee. For more information (in Spanish), go to: http://www.iaa.es/IYA09/index.php/es/organizacion/nacional/comite_de_honor

Attention professional astronomers: IYA2009 needs you!
A call has been made for professional astronomers to contribute toward IYA2009. Their expertise will be greatly valued and appreciated, so we ask you to spread the word in your countries / regions, and help to get them onboard.
To assist, we've produced some PowerPoint slides which contain suggestions and ideas: http://www.astronomy2009.org/resources/presentations/detail/presentation_IYA2009_professional_astronomers/

Celestron SkyScout declared official IYA2009 product
Celestron's snazzy SkyScout gadget has earned the deserved honour of being an official IYA2009 product. If you haven't seen one in action, they are personal handheld planetariums equipped with GPS technology that allow users to locate and identify 50,000 objects in the night sky.
Celestron has a dedicated IYA2009 website, which is definitely worth a look: http://www.celestronlife.com/IYA09/

NASA selects astronomy student ambassadors
46 undergraduate and graduate students have been selected to represent NASA in their local communities as recipients of the agency's IYA2009 Student Ambassadors Program.
Two of the students were chosen to attend the IYA2009 Opening Ceremony in Paris, January 2009: Rebecca Holmes, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill who is majoring in physics and astronomy, and Norberto Gonzalez, a junior at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo with a biology concentration.
For more information, go to: http://astronomy2009.nasa.gov

Training for young astronomy communicators

The Space Generation Advisory Council and Uludag University Project Office in Turkey are collaborating to organise "ToAP - Training of Astronomy Promoters". Aimed at young communicators who want to popularise astronomy throughout IYA2009, it's sure to be greatly valued by participants. The training course will be held in Bursa-Turkey between 18-24 May 2009.
For more information, visit: http://www.spacegeneration.org/node/2173

Opening Events
As you know, the official global Opening Ceremony will happen in Paris, France, on 15 and 16 January 2009. More information on the Opening Ceremony: http://ama09.obspm.fr/ama09/open.php
If you are planning any official opening ceremony in your country, please send us the dates and information as soon as possible. We will publish that information on the global IYA2009 website.

IYA2009 Discovery Guides now available online

Introducing 12 easy ways to share the excitement of the night sky during IYA2009!
The Night Sky Network, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, National Science Foundation, NASA, and the IYA US committee have teamed up to provide Monthly IYA Discovery Guides. These are internationally accessible and complete with articles, activities, instructional videos, and finder charts.
You can download them here: http://www.astrosociety.org/iya/guides.html

The Guides form part of a wide range of activities, searchable here: http://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/download-search.cfm

And for those of you with websites, we encourage you to link directly to these resources using the following: http://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/download-view.cfm?Doc_ID=338

Project Updates
365 Days of Astronomy Podcast says: "hello, world!"

The first, introductory episode of 365 Days of Astronomy has been posted online. This project aims to release an astronomically themed show every day throughout IYA2009. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, so listen in and start planning now!
Go straight to the show by clicking: http://365daysofastronomy.org/2008/11/06/podcast-hello-world/

FETTU images released
From Earth To The Universe is steaming ahead! Now available are zipped high-resolution files and separate captions for the breathtaking images.
Be sure to check them out: http://www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org/topimages.php

Congratulations, FETTU!
We are happy to report some more excellent news, courtesy of the FETTU team.
NASA has approved an Education and Public Outreach proposal, resulting in approximately $300,000 (US) for use in 2009 and 2010. This money will fund two semi-permanent FETTU exhibits in Chicago (in conjunction with the Adler Planetarium) and Atlanta (with Agnes Scott College and the Hartsfield International Airport), as well as a travelling version that will have multiple stops across the US. The NASA grant will also provide FETTU organisers with the ability to create informal education products, materials for visually impaired users, and evaluation information. These and other elements that are enabled by the NASA grant will be shared with FETTU organisers worldwide.
More information: www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org

FETTU on a roll!
Three's a charm for FETTU: Sky & Telescope magazine will feature about 50 FETTU images across 30 pages in its annual "Beautiful Universe" publication.
Click for more: http://www.shopatsky.com/products/U801.L5/Beautiful%20Universe%202009.htm

Those are the key updates for this time. We think they serve to demonstrate just how much progress is being made in this final leg before 2009.
Remember that the Secretariat is always willing to assist with any IYA2009 questions you may have!


Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium Declared "Official Product" of IYA2009

7 November 2008

TORRANCE, CA - (November 5, 2008) - Celestron®, the world's leading designer and manufacturer of telescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, microscopes and related accessories, announced that their award-winning SkyScout Personal Planetarium has been declared the "Official Product" of International Year of Astronomy 2009 by the IYA organization. "Celestron's SkyScout is a must-have tool for astronomy beginners. Its high-quality features and educational value make it the perfect instrument to explore the sky during 2009, the International Year of Astronomy." said Pedro Russo, International Year of Astronomy Coordinator.

About the size of a camcorder and weighing less than 16 ounces, the SkyScout utilizes a consumer-friendly "point and shoot" GPS technology that enables stargazers to instantly identify and/or locate over 50,000 celestial objects in the sky with the press of a button and listen to commentary on the object and its history. The SkyScout also has a "locate" feature that allows users to select an object they wish to view (i.e. Mars) and the SkyScout, using illuminated arrows in the viewfinder, will point the user to the object. "After 400 years of telescopes comes another product that is bound to revolutionize educational astronomy. The sky will never be the same with Celestron's SkyScout." said Dr. Salim Ansari, Head of Information Systems and Education Support Service with the European Space Agency.

Celestron invites you to be a part of the IYA2009 global celebration. Worldwide events and activities are being planned to celebrate IYA2009; such as sidewalk astronomy events, planetarium shows, documentaries and traveling exhibits. "Celestron is proud to be a global sponsor of IYA2009. It is imperative that we increase scientific awareness to the general public and generate excitement for astronomy and the science community to our younger generation." said Joseph A. Lupica Jr, President and CEO of Celestron. "We need to increase knowledge and concern for the preservation of our dark skies and our historical astronomical sites. The International Year of Astronomy gives the citizens of the world a way to better understand how the impact of science and astronomy affects their daily lives and how they can help contribute to a more peaceful, knowledgeable society."

The expanding SkyScout Personal Planetarium family now features many new accessories; including high-quality, rechargeable SkyScout Speakers and SkyScout Expansion Cards (All About the Stars and Astronomy for Beginners). The SkyScout continues to be the easiest to use, most accurate and most reliable device of its kind on the market. Visit, www.celestron.com for detailed information on product features and availability.

Learn more about it on Celestron IYA2009 website: www.celestronlife.com/IYA09


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Organisational Associates:

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