IYA2009 Updates

Reading guide on Astronomy Education and Outreach

22 July 2010

Astronomy Education Review published a reading guide on Astronomy Education and Outreach: http://dx.doi.org/10.3847/AER2010011

IYA2009 spirit lives on — during Germany's craziest highway closure

20 July 2010

It was the highlight event of the European Capital of Culture celebrations at the Ruhr in Germany: 60 km of one of the country's busiest highways, the A 40, were completely closed to motorized traffic one Sunday (July 18) - and then opened for everyone. In particular 20,000 tables were set up where cultural activities of all kinds could be performed for the pedestrian and cyclist visitors, of which some 3 million eventually made it to the unusual spectacle. This was an opportunity not to be missed by the regional IYA node which still meets on a regular basis: We managed to turn 10 of the tables into a model of the solar system spanning most of the A 40 segment reserved for the "Stillleben" (still life) event. It was not really to scale but used identical designs to express some continuity amongst the bewildering variety of sights. And the Sun was marked by a bright yellow balloon measuring 3.7 meters: This was a left-over from another Capital of Culture event when hundreds of those balloons marked former mining shafts. Not only did our tables mark the (rough) relative positions of the planets, though: At many of them telescopes were set up to show the Sun in white light and H-Alpha, and numerous visitors, perhaps 5000 over the day at all stations, got their first direct celestial views. Whether such a highway party - a logistical challenge of epic proportions - will ever be repeated is far from clear, but there are no fears anymore among the astronomical participants of the A 40 Stillleben now to confront crowds of any size with telescopes and information. 

Report by Daniel Fischer

Pess Release: http://www.essen-fuer-das-ruhrgebiet.ruhr2010.de/no_cache/en/press-media/press-information/detailseite/article/more-than-3-million-guests-at-the-worlds-longest-table.html

New Nightshade version released

20 July 2010

Nightshade 10.7.1 and a user guide are now available to download at http://NightshadeSoftware.org

Nightshade is free, open source astronomy simulation and visualization software for teaching and exploring astronomy, Earth science, and related topics. Nightshade is based on the award-winning Stellarium software, but tailored for planetarium and educator use. 

Available for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and other platforms.

Music and Astronomy Under the Stars

20 July 2010

Music and Astronomy under the stars

"Music and Astronomy Under the Stars" is a program run by Dr. Donald Lubowich, from Hofstra University, with funding from NASA. The idea is to combine musical concerts, stargazing and multimedia presentations. Yesterday, together with the White House OSTP, they held a star party on the National Mall, in downtown Washington DC.

The site was chosen next to the Washington Monument obelisk, where many locals go running or go for a walk, just blocks from the White House.

The event used also the prolific help of local enthusiast, from astronomy associations in the area and their telescopes, to NASA HQ with plenty of EPO material to give away. Altogether more than 20 telescopes of all sizes were used to observe, first the Sun and its small current sunpsot, and then the stars, planets and all shorts of celestial objects. The enthusiasm and expertise of the telescope owners were matched by the awe and joy of a growing group of amazed runners and by-walkers.  

Looking for the first time at a solar sunspot (with filters!), or the Moon and its orography, or the marvellous Saturn with its rings. All accompanied by multimedia presentations on a screen with amazing videos and music. There is a limit on what one can see from such a light-polluted city, but surely enough to make people, adults and kids alike, be amazed and make question after question.

For more information please contact Dr. Donald Lubowich.

Report by Bruno Sanchez-Andrade Nuño:



More information:

White House blog: http://go.usa.gov/Opw

Astronomy mMagazine blog: http://cs.astronomy.com/asycs/blogs/astronomy/2010/07/14/bringing-the-stars-to-the-capital.aspx

Cassini Scientist for a Day - Fall 2010 Contest - National Coordinators Wanted!

19 July 2010

In celebration of the Cassini spacecraft’s Solstice mission orbiting Saturn, the Fall 2010 edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest is once again going to be INTERNATIONAL.  Last year, the project had participation from students in 27 countries on 5 continents. 

Students in grades 5-12 (approximately ages 10-18) will be invited to write a 500-word essay about one of three possible targets (Saturn and its rings and moons) the Cassini spacecraft will image on October 18 and 22, 2010.

Contest rules from last year’s contest can be found here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientistforaday/

The project is seeking both new and returning national contest coordinators, whether or not you were able to help organize a contest in your country last year.

As a National Coordinator, you would advertise the contest, collect essays from students in your country or region, assemble a team of judges to read the essays, and e-mail the best essay(s) from your country to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


To sign up:

Send an e-mail to scientistforaday@jpl.nasa.gov with “International CSFAD” in the subject line, and include your name, e-mail address, space background, and country or region you would like to represent.  If other people from your country have already expressed an interest in coordinating the essay contest, we will put you in touch with them so you can work together.

To see last year’s list of countries that were represented, click here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientistforaday8thedition/international/countries/


To see how we post international winning entries, click here:



We hope to get as many countries as possible involved in this contest. 


More information:

Rachel Zimmerman Brachman

Cassini Scientist for a Day organizing committee lead

Cassini Formal Education Specialist

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA


TWAN Coverage of July 2010 Total Solar Eclipse

19 July 2010

From remote islands of Pacific Ocean to an eclipse flight 12km above the sea, 7 TWAN members from across the globe traveled to capture the elegant beauty of the eclipsed sun. http://www.twanight.org/newtwan/news.asp?newsID=6055

IYA2009 Updates

16 July 2010

TWAN in Algeria
From Martian landscapes of Sahara to Mediterranean paradises, the diversity of Algeria and the active astronomy society have welcomed TWAN exhibits and imaging missions. http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/news.asp?newsID=6053

BLAST! will broadcast BBC World News
BLAST! will broadcast BBC World News on 7/24 and 7/25/10 reaching over a million households around the world.  To find your local listings, visit http://www.bbcworldnews.com/Pages/Schedules.aspx
More information about Blast!: http://www.astronomy2009.org/globalprojects/specialprojects/blast/

NASA and Microsoft Provide Mars 3-D Close Encounter: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/981/

Free astronomy ebook in Portuguese: In the framework of IYA2009, the Brazilian National Node published a book about the Universe. The book in PDF can be downloaded here: http://www.astro.iag.usp.br/fascinio.pdf

Crowdsourcing the search for aliens
Research from the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project is well known to most technologists because the SETI@Home initiative was one of the first widely distributed computing applications.
Read more: http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/07/crowdsourcing-the-search-for-a.html

MEDEA Awards 2010 Newsletter:http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/978/

NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge:http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/985/

Astronomy Night on the US National Mall:

Solve a Mystery at the World at Night:

The 7th Small and Portable Planetarium
gathering is going to be held at the Planetarium Kallioplanetaario in Jyväskylä, Finland, during the period 17-20 August 2010.
More information: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/975/

Total Solar Eclipse of 11 July 2010 -- LIVE
11 July featured another total solar eclipse. See some images and videos: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/973/

NSF International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge

15 July 2010

Some of science's most powerful statements are not made in words. From the diagrams of DaVinci to Rosalind Franklin's X-rays, visualization of research has a long and literally illustrious history. To illustrate is to enlighten.

How many people would have heard of fractal geometry or the double helix or solar flares if they had been described solely in words? In a world where science literacy is dismayingly rare, illustrations provide the most immediate and influential connection between scientists and other citizens, and the best hope for nurturing popular interest. Indeed, they are now a necessity for public understanding of research developments.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the journal Science created the International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge to celebrate that grand tradition--and to encourage its continued growth. The spirit of the competition is for communicating science, engineering and technology for education and journalistic purposes.

Judges appointed by NSF and Science will select winners in each of five categories: Photography, Illustrations, Informational Posters and Graphics, Interactives Games and Non-Interactive Media. The winning entries will appear in a special section inScience and Science Online, and on the NSF website, and one of the winning entries will be pictured on the front cover. In addition, each winner will receive a one-year print and on-line subscription to the journal Science and a certificate of appreciation.

We urge you and your colleagues to enter the next competition. For more information, see Guidelines for Submissions and the Entry Form.

TWAN in Algeria

15 July 2010

From Martian landscapes of Sahara to Mediterranean paradises, the diversity of Algeria and the active astronomy society have welcomed TWAN exhibits and imaging missions. http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/news.asp?newsID=6053

BLAST! will broadcast BBC World News

14 July 2010

BLAST! will broadcast BBC World News on 7/24 and 7/25/10 reaching over a million households around the world.  To find your local listings, visit http://www.bbcworldnews.com/Pages/Schedules.aspx

More information about Blast!: http://www.astronomy2009.org/globalprojects/specialprojects/blast/

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Organisational Associates:

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