Information regarding the new IYA2009 Cornerstone Project: Galilean Nights

2 July 2009

Following the unprecedented success of IYA2009's 100 Hours of Astronomy, another series of events is being planned 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 and pointing their telescopes to the wonders that Galileo observed 400 years ago. The focus of the project is sidewalk observations of the gas giant Jupiter and its moons, as well as allowing members of the public to observe the Sun, our own Moon and many more celestial marvels. More information: and

I would like to introduce you to our coordinator for the project: Catherine Moloney. Catherine is a science communicator with Master's degrees in Science Communication from Imperial College London and also Physics with Space Science and Technology from the University of Leicester. She recently completed six months working at the Education and Public Outreach Department of the European Southern Observatory. Her duties included writing press releases, producing content for exhibitions and assisting in the organisation and implementation of Around the World in 80 Telescopes, a 24-hour webcast that formed part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project. Prior to her work at ESO she was a technical specialist for three years on a satellite communication project for the British armed forces, worked with the science communication group at the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and also spent three years working at the National Space Centre, the UK's largest science centre dedicated to space. Catherine will oversee the Galilean Nights Cornerstone project and implement the project as specified by the Galilean Nights Task Group.

The purpose of this email is to get you all thinking and planning for the event, particularly:

          1. Logo translations
          2. Website
          3. Event registration
          4. Resources
          5. October Sky Events
          6. Astronomical Associations and Societies
          7. Networks

1. Logo Translations.
If you would like to have a version of the Galilean Nights logo in your own language, then please send a translation of "Galilean Nights" encoded UTF-8, including the font, if necessary to Catherine Moloney (, by 10. July. You can see the Galilean Nights logo here:

2. Website
Like the other Cornerstone Projects, Galilean Nights will have its own website: This is in the planning stage, but the site will be similar to other Cornerstone websites, including project news and events updates, event registration, a searchable events list and resources and educational material.

3. Event Registration
To be introduced very soon will be a simple procedure for registering the many Galilean Nights events, so that we can collect information together in order to coordinate the events and keep in contact with event organisers. We will contact you all again once the registration process is ready,

4. Resources
In the build-up to October, a number of online resources will be developed for the use of each sidewalk event.  These will includ

  2. Branding and Identity: Posters and Logo
  3. Background Information: Presentations and video presentations on the key observable objects: Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon.
  4. Observing Guides

If there are any resource materials that you foresee being useful, then please forward suggestions to me.

5. October Sky Events
With the dates set for Galilean Nights, 23rd and 24th October, identifying the key observable objects in the local night skies will help with planning each local event. Many online resources exist to identify local sky maps of observable objects, including:

6. Astronomical Associations and Societies
Each local event will need to be individually run and managed, which is where the hard work and enthusiasm of local associations and societies will be invaluable.  Please start thinking of potential groups and organisations and get them involved from the beginning. Please inform all National Level Amateur Groups, so that they can plan for the event in advance. Professional societies, laboratories, observatories and institutions may also be requested to keep aside the two days as a special event for the IYA2009.

7. Networks
Make use of all networks available to you to communicate about the event. Apart from those networks that are more obvious to you (universities, research institutes, amateur astronomers), there are surely many people working in science and scientific and cultural communication in your country. Use their contacts, use their networks for the benefit of IYA2009. You probably know who these people are much better than we do, but here are some examples:

  • Science centres
  • Public libraries
  • Science clubs at schools
  • Teachers associations
  • Science journalists
  • Science communicators
  • Science teachers

With less than four months to go until the event, preparations will need to start as soon as possible.  If you have any comments or queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

We look forward to working with you all to make the event a success!

Pedro Russo
IYA2009 Coordinator

Catherine Moloney
IYA2009 Galilean Nights Coordinator
On behalf of the Galilean Nights Task Group.

Organisational Associates:

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