IYA2009 Galilean Nights award winners announced!

4 March 2010

The IYA2009 Cornerstone project Galilean Nights ran during October 2009 and saw thousands of individuals and organisations host a wide range of events to popularise astronomy and highlight the importance of Galileo's legacy. Now that event reports have been collated the Galilean Nights awards can be announced. There are six categories, each with a winner and two highly commended entries. Selecting the winners was a challenging task as the quality of all of the events was extremely high. It was particularly difficult to select only three for the Community Outreach award as all events did great work in engaging with their local communities in different ways, there could easily have been many more added to the Highly Commended list.

Congratulations go, not only to all of the winners and the highly commended entries but to everybody involved in Galilean Nights. Every single event played an important role in bringing astronomy to people all around the world. It was this combined effort that made Galilean Nights a huge success and one of the long-standing memories of IYA2009, with many organisers planning to turn their activities into recurring events.

The Galilean Nights Awards are kindly supported by EurAstro (http://eurastro.de/)

Outstanding Galilean Nights Event

Winner: "Galilean Nights Festival at Targoviste" run by SARM - The Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy. This truly spectacular event attracted around 3200 attendees. The organisers really went above and beyond by arranging for a press conference and a special live TV broadcast. Congratulations! http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn1,185.pdf

Highly commended: AstroDnepr sidewalk astronomy event at the Festival'ny Prichal, Ukraine. Organisation for this event began in August, and an impressive 14 institutions collaborated to make it a reality. Lots of effort was put into involving children in the astronomical fun. Galilean Nights was used a springboard, as many initiatives have continued.

Highly commended: Galilean Nights at the Ghana Planetarium run by Ghana Planetarium and the Ghana Astronomy and Observation Association. This special day enthused students from major institutions and gave members of the public the opportunity to view the skies as Galileo did 400 years ago. There were also sell-out shows in West Africa's only digital planetarium.


Largest number of registered events held by a single group

Winner: Centro de Estudos Astronômicos de Alagoas – CEAAL, Brazil. 29 events. Centro de Estudos Astronomicor de Alagoas really embraced Galilean Nights and ran outreach activities of all varieties.  From putting on astrophotography exhibitions in major shopping malls and at the university, public observing sessions all over the city, to travelling with a mobile planetarium to more remote locations. Through their activities CEAAL reached tens of thousands of people. http://www.galileannights.org/events/event_country_brazil.html#gn664

Highly commended: Universidade Federal de Alfenas - Campus Poços de Caldas, Brazil. 11 events.  The Universidade Federal de Alfenas put on several different events to introduce students and the public to the joys of astronomy.  Using many different activities, from night sky observing to theatre shows, there was something to capture the attention of everybody. http://www.galileannights.org/events/event_country_brazil.html#gn775

Highly commended: NUCLIO - Núcleo Interactivo de Astronomia, Portugal, 9 events. The Núcleo Interactivo de Astronomia filled all three days of Galilean Nights with activities. They held observing sessions, astronomy workshops, daytime observing of the Sun and public lectures on astronomy. They even ran learning sessions for teachers with practical demonstrations on how to make astronomy and science learning fun. http://www.galileannights.org/events/event_country_portugal.html#gn896


Highest attendance at a single registered event

Winner: “Exposição de Telescópios” run by Clube de Astronomia de Brasília, Brazil. More than16 500 people observed Jupiter and its moons with their own eyes over the course of seven days. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn835.pdf

Highly commended: “Cosmic Landscape”, Brazil. This public exhibition was held at the biggest shopping mall in Maceió (Brazil), and was swamped with 15,000 attendees. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn665.pdf

Highly commended: Sidewalk astronomy night around Bangalore, India. Run by the Bangalore Astronomical Society in India, this non-stop astrofest lasted for 30 consecutive nights and was experienced by 10,277 people. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn1,237.pdf

Community outreach

Winner: Centro de Estudos Astronômicos de Alagoas, Brazil. This group travelled in a caravan through five cities in the State of Alagoas in Brazil to reach small communities with their Galilean Nights activities. http://www.galileannights.org/events/event_country_brazil.html#gn665

Highly commended: The Biggest Astrophoto Exhibition held in Erbil, Iraq. Many attendees stated that seeing Jupiter through a telescope made this day the most wonderful and interesting of their lives! http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn1,268.pdf

Highly commended: "I saw the Moon", Afghanistan. Run by the Afghanistan Astronomy Association (AAA), around 70 people braved the cold weather to see the Moon for the first time through a telescope. Attendees were presented with remembrance cards to mark the occasion. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn924.pdf

Most innovative event

Winner: Dinner on Mars, Portugal. Run by Portugal's Navegar Foundation, this highly creative event saw diners sample dishes such as “Olympus Mons Duck” and “Valles Marineris Monkfish” whilst watching an astronomical tour projected onto a planetarium dome. Delicious! http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn181.pdf

Highly commended: An Evening in Tuscany Dinner & Dance, Canada. Organised by the Vancouver Tuscany Cultural Society in Canada, this Galilean Nights event featured astronomical artwork, a Galileo actor (and two renaissance ladies), and scientific experiments... as well as dinner and dancing, of course. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn296.pdf

Highly commended: Galilean Nights in Second Life. The virtual world of Second Life enjoyed astronomical fun thanks to interactive models of Jupiter and its moons, realistic telescopic views, and a planetarium show staged in a virtual reproduction of Galileo's villa. ttp://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn1,202.pdf


Best "Plan B"

Winner: The Galilean Night with hot tea and a journey to Jupiter, Romania Over six hours the Asociatia Astroclubul Bucuresti, Romania, hosted 300 visitors, prepared 250 cups of tea, and made six presentations. The event was broadcast by three major TV stations, four radio stations and nine websites, and was featured on the Galilean Nights LiveBlog. Not bad for a back-up plan thought up in two days because of bad weather! http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn73.pdf

Highly commended: Reto Mexico 2009 Biznaga Teatro theatre show, Mexico Run by Departamento de Astronomia, Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico, rain prevented telescopic observations so instead a play with 20 actors was presented, followed by a public talk by a professional astronomer. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn191.pdf

Highly commended: Northern Michigan Star Party, USA Mary Stewart Adams of Emmet County, USA, had the bright idea of featuring a live audio-visual presentation for those unable to attend local events. Using the online international astronomy community, Astronomy.FM, there was a slideshow with narration and a chatroom Q&A. http://www.galileannights.org/events/reports/gn1,194.pdf

Organisational Associates:

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