IYA2009 Updates

14 November 2009

Send a message to Venus
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is enhancing people's interest in space and the Earth by holding a message campaign. People are invited to send messages that will be printed in fine letters on an aluminium plate and placed aboard the Venus Climate Orbiter AKATSUKI. Find out how to register your message by visiting http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/596/

Leonid meteor shower expected to wow stargazers on 17 November
The annual Leonid meteor shower will be peaking in the hours before dawn on 17 November. Most observers from dark locations away from light pollution hope to see a meteor every few minutes during this peak of activity. See http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/603/ for more.

IYA2009 supporters urged to sign Welsh dark skies petition
Unlike most of the UK, Wales still has some areas free from light pollution, where the stars can be seen in all their glory. Members of Cardiff Astronomical Society have been working hard to protect these areas, by holding an exhibition at the Senedd of the Welsh Assembly, and presenting a seminar for Assembly Members with world-renowned speakers. They are currently organising a petition to the Welsh Assembly to bring attention to the dangers of light pollution and the need for clear guidelines. If you would like to help, please visit http://tinyurl.com/cfds-petition and sign the petition. You do not need to reside in the UK to sign. Registration is necessary but e-mail addresses are only used for logging on, and will not be disclosed. The Assembly fully adheres to data protection requirements and is statutorily bound to debate all petitions.

Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2010 - Third Announcement - Updated
The SOC has been very pleased with the response to attend and present papers at CAP2010 and is now in the process of selecting oral presentations and organising sessions. However, we have decided to extend the deadline as we have heard from a number of people that the timing was not optimum and they would like to submit in November. The deadline for abstract submission has now been extended to December 4th. This also applies to the special rate for on-site hotel accommodation. For existing registrants, please ensure that you have selected your accommodation as soon as possible to make sure that you have a booking. Due to the annual Cape Town cycle tour, the Ritz hotel no longer has rooms available for the night of the 14th March 2010. We have successfully negotiated the same rates with the Cape Manor Hotel, which is 3 blocks away from the Ritz hotel, until the 15th March 2010. Bookings are being made on a first-come, first served basis. Please book your accommodation as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
More info: http://www.communicatingastronomy.org/cap2010/

Western Connecticut IYA2009 enthusiasts unveil impressive scale Solar System
On 14 November a magnificent "true scale" model Solar System was being installed. It will be spread across over 6 miles of New Milford, Connecticut as part of local IYA2009 celebrations. The scale is set by a six foot diameter Sun that is on the Observatory grounds, and each object is on public property (most on school grounds), out to a distance of over 6 miles where the Oort Cloud and the "gateway to the Galaxy" will reside. Each object is cast in bronze, and sits atop a 5 foot stainless steel pyramid. For more, see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/600/

Summary of the International Conference of Young Astronomers 2009
The International Conference of Young Astronomers (ICYA2009) took place in Krakow, Poland between 7 - 13 September. The conference gathered almost 150 young scientists, researchers and advanced amateur astronomers from 30 countries and five continents. The summary is online: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/599/

NASA's Great Observatories celebrate International Year of Astronomy 2009
A never-before-seen view of the turbulent heart of our Milky Way galaxy is being unveiled by NASA on 10 November. This event will commemorate the 400 years since Galileo first turned his telescope to the heavens in 1609. In celebration of this International Year of Astronomy 2009, NASA is releasing images of the galactic centre region as seen by its Great Observatories to more than 150 planetariums, museums, nature centres, libraries, and schools across the country. Learn more here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/598/

Radio telescopes around the world ready for unprecedented observation project
Thirty-five radio telescopes around the world will conduct an unprecedented continuous 24-hour observation of nearly 250 remote quasars this week. The collection of quasars, whose positions in the sky are precisely known, forms the core (or defining sources) of a grid of celestial landmarks called the International Celestial Reference Frame (ICRF2), which was officially recognized as the fundamental reference system for astronomy by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in August 2009. The ICRF2 has 295 defining sources that are spread evenly over the sky and out of which 243 will be observed. See more: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/597/

"Sounds of the Stars" enchant at German IYA2009 concert
One of the cultural highlights of IYA2009 in Germany has been a concert by the Bochum Symphonic Orchestra at the largest auditorium of Bochum University on 6 November. Not only was the music astronomy-themed, the whole performance was also sumptuously illustrated by space vistas panning over a giant projection screen. Read more: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/595/

IYA2009 news from Congo
The African nation of Congo has been working hard to popularise astronomy. Next year many African countries will celebrate their 50th birthday after independence. There will be large festivals in August 2010. In Congo, plans are being developed to take this opportunity to speak to a wide audience about science in general and astronomy in particular. See a preview here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/594/

IYA2009 Special project: "Millions of Earths" sheds light on exoplanets
Exoplanet hunters are specialists working at the frontier of science. A new documentary film called "Millions of Earths" follows them in their exciting research, sharing their dreams and discoveries. The film visits observatories from Chile to Germany, and talks with scientists from all over the world. It weaves threads together into a story to captivate and educate. "Millions of Earths" is a Beta Prod production. See their website here: http://www.betaprod.fr/spip.php?page=sommaire-EN

Irish Science Week opens with astronomy exhibition
The exhibition "Over us All is the SElfsame Sky" (OASES) opened at 11:00 am on Monday 9 November in the Rotunda Gallery, St Patrick's Trian, Armagh with a performance of music, poetry and dance by pupils from Mount St. Catherine's Primary School, Armagh and the Armagh Rhymers. The launch coincides with the beginning of the science week in Ireland. See more here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/592/

Galileo lecture available to watch online
Professor William Shea, Galileo's Chair from the University of Padua, recently gave a talk called "The New World of Galileo" to mark IYA2009. The presentation can be seen online. View it here: http://www2.geolsoc.org.uk/presentations/bh091026

New initiative seeks to send astronomy books to developing nations
There are many astronomical societies in developing countries run by amateur astronomers. They organise many events throughout the year, and participation is immense. However the lack of resources is not conducive to long-term programmes. To overcome this difficulty, "Astro Book Drive" works on getting spare books from wealthy countries across to developing nations. See how to get involved by visiting http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/590/

Interferometry super-session to be held for IYA2009
The International VLBI Service for geodesy and astrometry (IVS) is organising an ambitious event in the framework of IYA2009. The IVS runs a worldwide network of radio telescopes dedicated to monitoring the Earth's rotation and establishing celestial and terrestrial reference frames. The VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) technique connects all antennas together, creating the equivalent of an Earth-size radio telescope which allows one to map the targets (extragalactic radio sources) with milliarcsecond angular resolution and measure their astrometric positions to about 0.1 milliarcsecond or even better. On 18-19 November 2009, the IVS will run a 24-hour "super-session" as an IYA2009 event. Learn more here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/589/

Organisational Associates:

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