IYA2009 Updates

European Hands-On Universe awarded with EC Silver Medal

27 May 2009

"Hands-On Universe, Europe - Bringing frontline interactive astronomy to the classroom", IYA2009 Organisational Node, has been awarded the silver medal by the European Commission in the category "Information and Communication Technologies"

More information:http://www.llp-conference.eu/awarded-projects

Weekend of Astronomy Education Workshops Sept. 12 & 13 Near San Francisco -- Scholarships Available

27 May 2009

Two Days of Hands-on Astronomy and Earth-science Education Workshops for 4th -12th Grade Teachers near San Francisco USA

 Sept. 12 - 13, 2009

A weekend of hands-on workshops and exciting science talks will be offered as part of the 120th anniversary meeting of the non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific at the Westin Hotel near the San Francisco Airport in Millbrae, California.

The program will include space science and earth science workshops for teachers in grades 4 through 12, as well as sessions for educators who work in informal settings (such as museums, nature centers, amateur astronomy clubs, and community organizations.)

No background in astronomy will be assumed or required. Experienced educators from the Society's staff, from NASA and NSF-sponsored projects, and from educational institutions around the country will be presenting.  Only a limited number of spaces will be available, and, thanks to conference supporters, registration for each day or the workshop will be only $39.

Sunday afternoon will feature a special nontechnical lecture series about the search for life among the stars, with some of the leading scientists from the SETI Institute describing the scientific experiments now under way to identify life beyond Earth.

Thanks to the support of the Spitzer Space Telescope Science Center, a limited number of travel-support scholarships (of up to $300 per person) will be made available for educators.

Continuing education credit for attending the workshop and writing a paper may be available at an additional fee through San Francisco State University.  (This is still pending.)

For more information, please go to the meeting web site at: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html

New information and program details will be posted as available.

NOTE: These workshops are part of the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and will feature a special session devoted to "Galileo Teacher Training" -- a key project to train educators to convey some of the themes of this very special year celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo turning the telescope to the heavens.

TWAN Update

26 May 2009

- The World at Night in collaboration with Dark Skies Awareness project, organize the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Earth and Sky Photo Contest on the importance of dark skies. It is open to anyone of any age, anywhere in the world. More

- See the complete photo report of TWAN exhibition/presentations in UNESCO, International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony and IAU260 symposium on astronomy and culture.   

- There are new stunning photos and time-lapse videos on TWAN website, featuring starry nights of the planet's landmarks from Asia and Middle East, to Europe and Americas: 




Mauna Kea Laser Star  (Hawaii) by Wally Pacholka

Being Watched  (Alaska) by LeRoy Zimemrman

The Time Will Come  (Alaska) by LeRoy Zimemrman

Drifting Apart  (Alaska) by LeRoy Zimemrman

Ursa Major and Submillimeter Telescope  (Arizona) by P.K. Chen

Twilight Arch  (Kansas) by Doug Zubenel

A World-leading Observatory (Hawaii) by Wally Pacholka

100 Years of Observation (California) by P.K. Chen


A Night in the Atacama Andes  (time-lapse video) by Stephane Guisard




Moon Halo over Lake Balaton  by Tamas Ladanyi



Moon Watch  by P-M Heden



All-sky View of a Lonely Tree  by Laurent Laveder

Tronoen Chapel Under Moonlight  by Laurent Laveder



Parthenon Sunrise  by Anthony Ayiomamitis


Asia and Middle East


Orion, Sirius, and Pagodas  by Kwon O Chul



Imperial Milky Way  by Oshin D. Zakarian

Andromeda and Wild Flowers  by Babak Tafreshi

Meet the Great Comet  by Babak Tafreshi

Orion Road  by Oshin D. Zakarian



Sky Panorama Over Lake Salda  by Tunc Tezel

Mediterranean All-sky View  by Tunc Tezel 



Garni Temple under Moonlight  by Babak Tafreshi


Guest Gallery is a a well-received section on TWAN website to feature selected outstanding Earth and sky photos by non-TWAN creative photographers from around the globe. If you have such remarkable photos to share with TWAN Guest Gallery, please contact us.There are new featured photos on the Guest Gallery:


- One Night  (Hawaii-USA) by Stefano De Rosa

- Pleiades Rising Above Ama Dablam (Nepal) by Manuel Jung

- Messier Night in Iran  by Amir H. Abolfath by Peter Wienerroither

- Radio Starlight (Germany) by Holger Ziegler

- Crescent Moon Above Ruined Church  (Hungary) by Abraham Tamas

- Trace in Abyaneh  (Iran) by Taha Ghouchkanlu

- Temple of Poseidon at Moonrise (Greece) by Chris Kotsiopoulos

- Racing Rock at Racetrack Playa  (California-USA) by Paul Gardner

- Camping at Joshua Tree National Park  (California-USA) by Paul Gardner

- Rising Galaxy Over Las Campanas  (Chile) by Alex Turorica

- CTIO Milky Way Setting (Chile) by Alex Turorica


- TWAN is featuring six special galleries:

Latest Images

Dark Skies Importance

Cosmic Motions

World Heritage Sites


TWAN Podcast


TWAN is a global program of Astronomers Without Borders (www.astrowb.org) and a Special Project of International Year of Astronomy 2009, an initiative by IAU and UNESCO. The World at Night is to produce and present a collection of stunning photographs of the world's most beautiful and historic sites against the nighttime backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events. The eternally peaceful sky looks the same above all symbols of different nations and regions, attesting to the truly unified nature of Earth as a planet rather than an amalgam of human-designated territories.

Building bridges through the sky

The World at Night



The mutual phenomena of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter

26 May 2009

In 2009, the planet Jupiter will experience an equinox (it occurs only every six years) allowing the observation from Earth of mutual occultations and eclipses between the Galilean satellites. We will take the opportunity of the "International Year of Astronomy 2009" to encourage every one to look at these satellites and to make astronomical observations.

These satellites are very easy to observe and the mutual phenomena are accessible to amateur astronomers, to students and to anyone using even a small telescope. These phenomena are not only spectacular and easy to see, they are also rich in scientific information. Observations will allow us to improve our knowledge of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, objects as large as the planets Mercury or Mars: Io and its volcanoes, Europa and its ice crust, Ganymede and Callisto.

Then we call for more than observations only for fun:  we also call for some more serious observations to be made according to some rules, simple but rigorous to be followed by the observers who have the material and the possibility to record such events. The data will be gathered and used for scientific purpose. Since the phenomena occur only from April to December 2009, we need a large worldwide network of observers to record as many events as possible. Observations have already started and some observers put their observations on YouTube at the address:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFDwkMb6Lpw In these videos is possible to see exactly what is observed during such events.

We intend to list all the participating observers who send in valuable data in a final publication in an international journal as was been done in the past after previous campaigns of observations with amateur astronomers.

More explanations are available at: http://www.imcce.fr/hosted_sites/ama09/phemu09_en.html

We would be grateful to the National IYA2009 nodes if they would inform all the amateur astronomers, students and high schools able to make astronomical observations.


IYA2009: telescopes donated to budding astronomers

26 May 2009

Many astronomy enthusiasts vividly remember their first sight through a telescope, whether it was the cratered lunar landscape, rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter, or the myriad of sparkling stars just waiting to be unveiled. It is an experience that greatly influenced Galileo, and continues to impact stargazers today.

However, modern telescopes can be prohibitively expensive which serves to deter the public. This should not necessarily be the case; even small telescopes are powerful enough to resolve the sights listed above, and are certainly sufficient to leave users with an impression of the skies that may last a lifetime. Also, small telescopes are easier to set-up and use than their larger and more expensive counterparts, a key factor in guaranteeing continued use.

It was with these facts in mind that low-cost telescope projects such as the Galileoscope and "You are Galileo!" were born. The idea of simple yet effective instruments, mass-produced to minimise prices, has proved to be very successful. However, even the minimal $10 - $30 (€7 - €21) fee places these tools out of the reach of many would-be stargazers. People in developing countries in particular are prone to missing out on the opportunity.

So, in true IYA2009 spirit, the Galileoscope and "You Are Galileo!" projects have displayed admirable generosity by implementing donation schemes to ensure that telescopes reach those who may not otherwise be able to obtain them.

People ordering Galileoscopes from the official page have the option to "Get One Give One". For every unit ordered, another can be purchased for a lower cost and automatically distributed and donated. Using this method, an astonishing 3200 Galileoscopes have been donated, spreading the instruments far and wide. The global coordination of IYA2009, is donating over 1500. And several hundred more have been given via donations to the American Astronomical Society.

The "You Are Galileo!" project has also been keen to donate low-cost telescopes. In fact, the Japanese IYA2009 contingent has either sent or is ready to send 353 telescope kits to nine countries: Peru, Indonesia, USA, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Mongolia, Ghana, Mali, and South Africa.

IYA2009 would like to extend its thanks to these projects and all groups and individuals who have helped make the donations a reality. These telescopes will doubtless help spread the wonder of astronomy to all corners of the world. If the numbers continue to grow as they have done so far, 2009 will be remembered by many as the year when the stars were finally brought within reach.


Answer engine can help to plan IYA2009 events

25 May 2009


A new computational answer-engine called Wolfram|Alpha has been released. Unlike conventional search engines, facts are given directly based on questions provided by users.

This has particular relevance to astronomers, as the dedicated astronomy section shows. Sky charts can be quickly produced for any date and location, calculations of astronomical properties can be performed, and astrophysical calculations are simplified. This has important implications for planning IYA2009 events such as star parties and lectures.

Take the upcoming Cornerstone Project Galilean Nights, for example. This follow-up to 100 Hours of Astronomy will be occurring on 23-24 October 2009. Wolfram|Alpha quickly produces information for the relevant date and a specific location, which can even be saved as a PDF to form convenient handouts for public participants.

According to the official site, "Wolfram|Alpha aims to bring expert-level knowledge and capabilities to the broadest possible range of people-spanning all professions and education levels. Our goal is to accept completely free-form input, and to serve as a knowledge engine that generates powerful results and presents them with maximum clarity."

Wolfram|Alpha could well be a useful resource for astronomers both professional and amateur, helping to spread information throughout IYA2009 and far beyond.


StarPeace Newsletter

24 May 2009

StarPeace upcoming events around the world:

  • May 23is Open Borders Day between Romania and Hungary. To bring peace and science among people, StarPeace clubswill hold joint publicStarPeace party inKübekháza (Hungary)on May 23: Romania, Hungary and Serbia.

This StarPeace party will be the first Triple StarPeace party in a triple border point.

To know the details of the program and see the poster, go to http://www.starpeace.org/En/Events/23May2009/Default.aspx

  • On 22 May until 24 May, there will be another StarPeace event between Macedonia and Serbia on the Mountain Golija in Sebija. One astronomy club from Macedonia and four astronomy clubs from Serbia will organize the event.

To find more about the event, go to http://www.starpeace.org/En/Events/22May2009/Default.aspx

  • On the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5, amateur astronomy groups world wide have planned a unique event of having Candle Lights under Star Lights. Called Stars for Global Peace, this is an event to promote Global Harmony and Peace.

Several countries world wide from Brazil in the West to New Zealand in the East will participate. All these countries including Uruguay, India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Oman would gather in the evening of 5th June - World Environment Day at a designated venues like near the river bed, memorial areas, school compounds, public gardens, places of workshop, malls etc.

To know the details of the program go to http://www.starpeace.org/En/News/34/Default.aspx

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

StarPeace on Social Networks:

Latest news and updates on Twitter: http://twitter.com/starpeace

Discussion groups on FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=60465787740

StarPeace welcomed volunteers to translate this newsletter into other languages. If anyone is volunteer contact us at info@starpeace.org and we will give you every newsletter two days before publishing for translating. 


IYA2009 Updates

22 May 2009


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. GalileoMobile also extends its impact to a worldwide audience through the production of a documentary movie, conveying a message of interaction beyond borders and thus of "unity under the same sky", while raising awareness for the diversity of human cultures, and ultimately inspiring similar initiatives. More information is available on the GalileoMobile official website: http://www.galileo-mobile.org/

Angolan science minister urges institutions to work with astronomers on the occasion of IYA2009 Angolan minister of Science and Technology, Candida Teixeira, called on public and private institutions to cooperate and pay attention to the development of activities of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 due to its pedagogical interest and the re-launch of this science in the country. Learn more here: http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/ciencia-e-tecnologia/Science-minister-urges-institutions-work-with-astronomers,4e8160a2-58e1-4bf0-bf4d-94c84799d032.html

Dark Skies Awareness Updates
Dark Skies Awareness Podcast: Connie Walker and Rob Sparks from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory talk about the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone Project on a 10-minute, audio podcast called "Back to the Dark Ages: Responsible Nighttime Lighting." The podcast can be downloaded free at http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/05/16/may-16th-back-to-dark-ages-responsible-nighttime-lightingby/

The Earth and Sky Photo Contest: The photography contest is open to any amateur photographer of any age, anywhere in the world. The special theme of this contest is "Dark Skies Importance"; so the image should impress people about how important and amazing the starry sky is, how it affects our life, and how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Details on this programme can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org

Dark Skies Discovery Sites: The Dark Skies Discovery Sites (DSDS) programme seeks to establish permanent relatively dark locations where the public can be educated about light pollution while being introduced to the wonders of a fairly dark night sky. Astronomy clubs or individuals can earn the official DSDS designation for their location by agreeing to present, mostly at their own pace and schedule, an ongoing series of programs about light pollution. Details can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org

How Many Stars?: This is a star-hunting, citizen-science programme that encourages everyone - students, educators, astronomers and the general public to measure the darkness of their local night skies and contribute their observations online to a world map of light pollution. Find out more information at http://sternhell.at

Nights in the Parks: Throughout 2009, many national parks worldwide will be holding special programmes in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Some of the last dark skies in the world may be found in national parks. See www.darkskiesawareness.org for more details or www.nps.gov for details within the United States.   

We Are Astronomers Competition
To celebrate the launch of the amazing new full-dome digital planetarium show, "We Are Astronomers", you have the chance to win four free tickets to see the show at the nearest planetarium to you, along with an exclusive poster signed by the show's narrator, David Tennant. (Please note that this competition is only open to residents in the UK). So what do you have to do to win this excellent prize? It's quite simple; write us a twitter astronomy haiku! The winner will be announced on 01 June 2009, so get your thinking caps on! If you're intrigued and want to know more, visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/286/

Behind the scenes of "Around the World in 80 Telescopes"
Is it possible to visit all major observatories in the world, covering every continent, in the space of just 24 hours? ESO made a trip "Around the World in 80 Telescopes" during a live 24-hour webcast. Let's go behind the scenes to find out how it was done. Click to see the video! http://www.eso.org/gallery/v/Videos/esocast/ESOCAST7_P_FLASH.flv.html

Galileoscope update
 The current production run of Galileoscopes consists of 60,000 units, which will satisfy orders placed and paid for through the first week of May. They will start leaving the factory on Monday 18 May, and will begin reaching customers in mid-June. Of these 60,000, about half are going to customers who bought small numbers of Galileoscopes via our website at https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/, and about half are going to others who placed large orders (100 or more kits) via our request-for-quotation system. Most of these orders are from schools and other educational organizations, with very few orders from SPoCs. If you want Galileoscopes at the current price, and if you want them in 2009, you need to order NOW! Thus, it is imperative that all SPoCs make contact with potential buyers of Galileoscopes within their respective jurisdictions and have orders committed as soon as possible. For the full update, visit http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/285/.     


News round-up, 22 May 2009

22 May 2009

IYA2009 seeks to promote amateur astronomers, so we enjoy coming across stories like this one from KTAR.com. Keen stargazer David Healy has a private observatory which he's used to discover more than 500 asteroids. "This was a hobby that got out of control," says Helay. Too right mate, but IYA2009 applauds you! Especially as he's now teamed up fellow enthusiast Tom Kaye, in an attempt to become the first amateurs to discover an extra-solar planet. Aim high, guys!

Are you a modern type? Do you use Twitter? You do? Great! That means you can get involved in a competition celebrating the launch of the full-dome digital planetarium show "We are Astronomers", which, incidentally, has a lovely trailer. The competition is to win four tickets for the show, and all you have do to be in with a chance of winning is write a Twitter astronomy haiku. Then send it to @astronomy2009.uk. Simple, really. Talking of Twitter, IYA2009's official page, http://twitter.com/astronomy2009, is certainly worth a look-see.

Agencia AngolaPress has been reporting on words of support from the Angolan minister of Science and Technology, Candida Teixeira. She has called on private and public institutions to cooperate with IYA2009 activities, which should help to "re-launch this science in the country." IYA2009 approves!

"Astronomy booming in Bombala" is the wonderful headline of a Bombala Times article. Residents of this Australian district have embraced astronomy, and have even formed the Bombala Astronomy Guild to cater for the interest. The article says they meet every two weeks at the local airstrip, but it's not made clear whether they have to watch out for low-flying aircraft.

If armchair stargazing is more your thing, then an Australian PC Authority article about viewing the cosmos using your computer should be required reading.  Software such as Stellarium, Google Sky, Starry Night, and Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope are all discussed, and then it's onto methods of controlling telescopes from the comfort (and warmth) of your living room.

The Southgate Amateur Radio Club has a nifty little story about the UK's Normal Lockyer Observatory having been given special permission to use the callsign GB400IYA throughout the year. Come in GB400IYA, do you read me? Over!

The Times of India reports that students have been shying away from areas of study such as astronomy. They say that particularly in India, courses like engineering and medicine are more popular. The article gives some sound advice to people considering their academic options, and helpfully mentions IYA2009 at the end, as a sweetener. So go on folks, we want more stargazers.

Now, remember to follow the IYA2009 Twitter Feed for even more frequent updates. How's that for a world-class service?

Lee Pullen
IYA2009 Staff Writer


Dark Skies Awareness Updates

22 May 2009

Dark Skies Awareness Podcast
Connie Walker and Rob Sparks from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory talk about the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone Project on a 10-minute, audio podcast called "Back to the Dark Ages: Responsible Nighttime Lighting." Dark Skies Awareness is a global cornerstone project of IYA hosted by NOAO. Its goal is to raise the level of public knowledge about adverse impacts of excess artificial lighting on local environments and help more people appreciate the ongoing loss of a dark night sky. Toward this end, a variety of programs and resource materials have been developed. To learn more about the cornerstone project, visit http://www.darkskiesawareness.org. The podcast can be downloaded free at http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/05/16/may-16th-back-to-dark-ages-responsible-nighttime-lightingby/. All 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts are available at http://365daysofastronomy.org

The Earth and Sky Photo Contest

The photography contest is open to any amateur photographer of any age, anywhere in the world. The special theme of this contest is "Dark Skies Importance"; so the image should impress people about how important and amazing the starry sky is, how it affects our life, and how bad the problem of light pollution has become. The organizers are The World at Night founder, Babak Tafreshi, and Dark Skies Working Group (DSWG) member and IAU Div. XII Commission 50 President, Richard Wainscoat. Details on this program, including the site to submit photos, can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org.

Dark Skies Discovery Sites

The Dark Skies Discovery Sites (DSDS) program seeks to establish permanent relatively dark locations where the public can be educated about light pollution while being introduced to the wonders of a fairly dark night sky. Astronomy clubs or individuals can earn the official DSDS designation for their location by agreeing to present, mostly at their own pace and schedule, an ongoing series of programs about light pollution. The organizers are DSWG members, Fred Schaaf and Terry Mann, as well as John Goss. Terry and John are officers of the Astronomical League. Fred writes for Sky and Telescope. Details on this program, including the DSDS application, can be found at www.darkskiesawareness.org.

How Many Stars?

How Many Stars is a star-hunting, citizen-science program that encourages everyone - students, educators, astronomers and the general public to measure the darkness of their local night skies and contribute their observations online to a world map of light pollution. Citizen-scientists record the brightness of the night sky by matching its appearance toward the constellation of Ursa Minor in the northern hemisphere and the belt of Orion in the southern hemisphere with charts of different limiting magnitudes. During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, Ursa Minor is at its highest altitude in the night sky. The organization responsible for this campaign is Kuffner Observatory in Austria. Find out more information at http://sternhell.at.

Nights in the Parks
Throughout 2009, many national parks worldwide will be holding special programs in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Some of the last dark skies in the world may be found in national parks. Many parks like the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) are proud to share the beauty and wonder of the night sky. While the starry canopy will take center stage, event activities are as diverse as the parks. Activities U.S. National Parks include meteor watching, telescope viewing, solar viewing, instruction-al workshops, evening programs, night hikes, nocturnal wildlife watching, tips for protecting dark skies, & storytelling. Visit parks at www.nps.govfor more information. The program is led by Chad Moore and Dan Duriscoe of the DSWG and the U.S. National Park Service. See www.darkskiesawareness.org for more details or www.nps.gov for details within the United States.    

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Organisational Associates:

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