IYA2009 Updates

Turkish astronomy enthusiasts build 100 working telescopes

2 October 2009

As part of its commendable IYA2009 agenda, the Istanbul Kültür University (IKU) organised and ran a workshop for amateur telescope making in Turkey, between 4 - 9 July 2009. The venue was "Solar Beach" in Kilyos, a village by the northern coast of Istanbul, far from the city. More than half of all 100 participants were science teachers working in primary and high schools from various regions of Turkey.

Jerald Wright, an expert amateur telescope maker from the U.S. was this year's guest. Under the guidance of accomplished amateur telescope makers, many of whom had been trained in IKU last year, the participants manufactured their own telescopes, including the mirrors. Grinding, various calibrations of the mirrors, and the final construction of telescope mounts was all accomplished in only five days. The result was 100 telescopes which will serve thousands of people all over Turkey, because the participants, in particular the teachers, have been encouraged to share the telescopes with their schools and surrounding population. The teachers have also agreed to teach telescope making as part of their classroom activities, so that many students will learn hands-on how to make their own telescopes.

On 10 July, the participants contributed to the 3rd Amateur Astronomy Symposium. The following day a large-scale public event called STARFEST 2009 was held. Thousands of people gathered on Solar Beach, Kilyos for a star party with more than 100 telescopes, including the newly manufactured ones. The event began with an open-air concert by the pop-star Ajda Pekkan. This was followed by sky gazing with many telescopes, led by their manufacturers.

The IYA2009 team congratulates all participants of the workshop, and hopes that the new telescopes will bring the wonders of the Universe to many eager eyes.


Astronomy portal brings IYA2009 to French speakers around the globe

2 October 2009

"Porte aux étoiles", a French-language astronomy portal, is seeking to expand its readership to new heights. Created during IYA2009, it aims to become the go-to site for those wanting to learn about the Universe. An key additional feature is an exhaustive list of astronomy societies and planetaria. From this one site, members of the public can access current events, educational content, practical astronomy tips, outing ideas, and much more.

The website has been made by the AFA (French Astronomical Association), in collaboration with and financed by the ECA (CEA), the CNES, the CNRS, the IN2P3, and the magazine Sky and Space.

Visit the Portal here: http://www.porteauxetoiles.org/


Sky & Telescope: Get Ready for "Galilean Nights"

1 October 2009

"The International Year of Astronomy is still in full swing, though many of the celebration's signature events have already come and gone. In particular, "100 Hours of Astronomy" was a smash hit. For four days, April 2-5, you could visit 80 professional observatories worldwide via a live, round-the-clock online tour, and more than a million people got telescopic views of the cosmos for the first time.

In the end, "100HA" was so successful that IYA organizers decided to have an encore - "Galilean Nights" - later this month (October 22-24)."

Read more here: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/63090802.html


She is an Astronomer Launches Web Forum

1 October 2009

‘She is an Astronomer', the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone Project, has launched a web forum for female professional and amateur astronomers, students, and those interested in the gender equality problem in science.

The number of women reaching senior positions in astronomy is still disproportionately small, despite significant increases in numbers of female undergraduate and postgraduate students in recent years.  The drop in numbers towards more senior levels suggests that scientific careers are heavily affected by social and cultural factors, and are not determined solely by ability.

"As part of the ‘She is an Astronomer' project, we have been speaking to women all over the world and at all stages of their careers about their experiences working in astronomy.  A recurrent theme that has emerged from these interviews is the importance of support and mentoring from other women working in the field.  We hope that this forum will provide an opportunity, not only for women - and men - to discuss gender issues, share ideas and best practice, but to open up channels of communication for women working at all levels in astronomy and in all countries," said Dr Helen Walker, Chair of the International She is an Astronomer project. "The forum will be a virtual version of the lunch meeting at the IAU."

As well as message boards on issues relating to women in astronomy, the forum has general astronomy and science threads, fun and games and an astronomy feature of the day. The forum is moderated by Hanny van Arkel and Alice Sheppard, both amateur astronomers and citizen science enthusiasts, and Paula Brochado, who is completing a PhD on galaxy mergers.

 "The forum is there for people to share their thoughts and exchange information.  We're looking forward to some good discussions on the issues of gender equality in science: successes, problems, the future," said Sheppard.

"What better way of dealing with the issues than on a forum, where people from all over the world can easily discuss things," said van Arkel.

"I remember I never had a doubt about becoming an astronomer but, even though I love what I do, the truth is that to be an astronomer is far from easy in professional terms. I think this forum is a really exciting opportunity to connect women working in astronomy and share their experiences," said Brochado.

She is an Astronomer Forum: http://forum.sheisanastronomer.org/


European Astroparticle Physicists to Celebrate 100 Years of Cosmic Ray Experiments

1 October 2009

Four hundred years ago, Galileo was the first one to look at the sky with a telescope. About 100 years ago a new era for astrophysics began with the first astroparticle physics experiments that led to the discovery of cosmic rays. European physicists take the opportunity of the International Year of Astronomy to celebrate this anniversary.

From 10 to 17 October 2009, in France, Italy, Spain and many other countries, astroparticle physicists will meet the public to reveal some of the most exciting mysteries of the Universe. Within the first European Week of Astroparticle Physics, they will organise about 50 events all over Europe: open days, talks for the general public, exhibitions...

The first precursor experiments discovered cosmic ray radiation about a century ago. From 1909 to 1911, physicist Theodor Wulf tried to measure differences of radiation at different altitudes from the Netherlands to Switzerland, and even on top of the Eiffel Tower. In 1912, Victor Franz Hess measured a significant increase of radiation using a balloon for his experiments, flying up to 5000 meters. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for "his discovery of cosmic radiation" in 1936.

Paris will honour astroparticle physics pioneers at the Montparnasse Tower - the highest building in Paris - which will become a real cosmic rays detector during the entire week. It will welcome the public for animations and meetings with scientists. At night a laser beam will link the ancient Paris Observatory and the Montparnasse Tower, flashing in syncronisation with the detection of cosmic rays.

In Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania... laboratories will open their doors or organise special events where physicists will meet the public.

Rome will celebrate astroparticle physics with opening on 27 October 2009 in Palazzo delle Esposizioni a large exhibition dedicated to astroparticle physics: "Astri e particelle. Le parole dell' Universo". It is the very first exhibition of this kind in Europe, highlighting challenges and techniques of astroparticle physics, a truly new astronomy.

New astronomy

While the roots of astroparticle physics date back one century ago, it has been developing strongly on the last  30 years, opening new windows to the Universe. Astroparticle physics aims to answer fundamental questions such as "What is dark matter?", "What is the origin of cosmic rays?" or "What is the nature of gravity?". In underground laboratories or with specially designed telescopes, antennas and satellite experiments, astroparticle physicists employ new detection methods to hunt a wide range of cosmic particles, such as neutrinos, gamma rays, and cosmic rays.

Cosmic rays are tiny particles coming from Space. Created in the core of stars and other cosmic bodies, they reach the Earth, providing a lot of information about their sources and the Universe. Physicists and astronomers think that the cosmic rays of the highest energies come from the most violent phenomena in the Universe such as supernova explosions and black holes.

As part of the International Year of Astronomy IYA2009, the European Week of Astroparticle Physics is an initiative of ApPEC and ASPERA*, the bodies coordinating astroparticle physics in Europe.

Find all the information about the European Week of Astroparticle Physics on: http://europeanweek.astroparticle.org

Pictures available at: http://www.aspera-eu.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=290

Follow the European week of astroparticle physics on Twitter!

Join the European Week of Astroparticle Physics on Twitter where all the events will be announced:

> http://twitter.com/astroparticle


Historical highlights:

1909-1910: Theodor Wulf studies radiation in several places: in the Netherlands, on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on the Swiss mountains, trying to detect a change of radiation with the altitude.

1912: Victor Hess flyes to 5200 metres in a balloon and demonstrates the existence of radiation coming from the sky. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1936 for his discovery of cosmic rays.

1930: Pierre Auger discovers particle showers, which come from the collisions between cosmic rays and particles of the atmosphere.

1956: Frederick Reines & Clyde Cowan discover the neutrinos. Reines was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1995 for this work.

1987: Neutrino emissions by Supernova SN 1987A confirm theories about star explosion.

1989: The first source of high-energy gamma rays is discovered.

1998: Cosmic neutrinos reveal the oscillatory nature of these particles.

2002: Raymond Davis and Masatoshi Koshiba are awarded the Nobel Prize for detecting cosmic neutrinos from the Sun and from SN 1987A.

2009: First European Week of Astroparticle Physics.


For further information please contact:

ASPERA press officer


Tel. +41 22 767 37 09



Astronomy enthusiast creates song and video for IYA2009

28 September 2009

IYA2009 supporter Michael A. Davis decided to do something special to celebrate this most astronomical of years. It was around September 2008 that the seeds were first sown in Michael's mind. His astronomer friend Jerry Langhals was spreading the word about IYA2009, hoping that it would help encourage people to go stargazing even if light pollution was a problem. This appealed to musical Michael, who had already written a song about insects (including lyrics such as "I got no problem with bugs / I just don't want them in my coffee cup").

Events had been set in motion: an IYA2009 song was destined to be created. Says Michael, "I went to books-a-million, the library, and the internet looking for ideas and put together this song."

His aim was make the title-phrase into a catchy, musical chorus that would stick in people's minds. In Michael's own words, "this song is a fun way for children and adults to get interested in looking at the stars. I have footage of parents with their children at Patoka Lake [Birdseye, Southern Indiana U.S.A.] looking at the stars, and fantastic NASA and Hubble photographs. The music video has bugs and food in space which most kids are fascinated with." 

All in all, it took Michael 11 months to get the song and video to its current state. He says, "I am in the process of adding a beautiful young lady ice skater to skate around Saturn's rings and I have put myself on a comet riding it like a horse. Then it will be complete."

Michael is open to the idea of creating another astronomy song, and will listen to any ideas that are pitched his way. During IYA2009 he hopes that people will see how much fun it is to learn about the Universe, and not be discouraged by light pollution. He would also like to highlight that "stargazing is also for girls!"

IYA2009 song: http://www.astronomy2009.org/resources/multimedia/audio/detail/IYoA2009/ 

IYA2009 Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTXPCxKFFaQ

I'm Not a Bug Squasher: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rS0w6HuVWos

The IYA2009 Secretariat has obtained the exclusive lyrics to the song, should any children (or adults) wish to learn them. All IYA2009 supporters are encouraged to sing along.


Spaced Out!                                         


International Year of Astronomy 2009

International Year of Astronomy 2009


Have you ever dreamed of ice skating all around Saturn's rings,

Put a saddle on a comet, joy-ride ‘til you pull on the reins.

It sounds nonsensical, but seriously we can do remarkable things,

Be an astronaut, take a trip to Mars or go telescoping.




The Universe is yours to discover, explore the mystery,

Invite friends, go star-hopping, have a festivity.
Refraction reflection, telescopic connection, to the stars,

And after five, we use clock drive, to track the stars, Jupiter and Mars.




The Universe is yours, to discover, go observe, go uncover,

There's bugs and butterflies, ants and owls, seagulls and eagles, there all spaced-out.

It's an insect-bird, interstellar-creature place,

It's a fine-art show, there's even food-stuff in space.


There's the cotton candy nebula, the bubble and the gum, the pencil and the spirograph, light years past the Sun,

The cat's paw nebula, the mice galaxy, the beehive cluster, space-art gallery.

There's the dragonfly cluster, the pancake galaxy,

The pelican nebula, come on kids and see.




You must get away from city light, away from the glare, just a few miles out 2000 stars will appear.




Remember stargazing is for everyone to enjoy,
It's for children, it's for grown-ups, it's for girls and boys.




And don't forget black holes, ‘cause they're out of sight.




Written by Michael A. Davis



Galileoscopes signed by celebrities up for auction

28 September 2009

Two Galileoscopes have been signed by stars of the screen, in order to raise funds to donate more telescopes to children unable to obtain them.

One Galileoscope has been signed by cast members of the new Battlestar Galactica, and actress Felicia Day. The other has been signed by part of the Ghost Hunters International cast.

Bids on these special telescopes are being taken on the auction site eBay. For every $15 (US) of the winning bid, one Galileoscope will be purchased and sent to a school child. The auctions are set to end on 1 October 2009.

The Galileoscope is a high-quality, low-cost telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators. No matter where you live, with this easy-to-assemble, 50-mm (2-inch) diameter, 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, you can see the celestial wonders that Galileo Galilei first glimpsed 400 years ago and that still delight stargazers today. These include lunar craters and mountains, four moons circling Jupiter, the phases of Venus, Saturn's rings, and countless stars invisible to the unaided eye.

Battlestar Galactica Galileoscope: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140347449698&_trkparms=tab%3DSelling#ht_500wt_1182

Ghost Hunters International Galileoscope: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140347450269&_trkparms=tab%3DSelling#ht_500wt_995

Official Galileoscope website: https://www.galileoscope.org/


New UNESCO Venice Portal is dedicated to IYA2009

28 September 2009

This new IYA2009 portal is run by UNESCO Venice, which contributes to IYA2009 by supporting side events in Venice and in the South East Europe region.

View the site here: http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=46424&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html


IYA2009 photographer Babak Amini Tafreshi wins the 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award

28 September 2009

Iranian photographer, journalist, and staunch IYA2009 supporter Babak Tafreshi has been declared joint-winner of the 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award, sharing the honour with NASA's Cassini Imaging Director Carolyn Porco.

The award is given for work in scientific and medical photography. The event's panel citation reads: "Babak A. Tafreshi's photographs reclaim a night sky that most modern people have lost. He takes us to remote places where the stars still look like they did at the dawn of mankind. His work calls to mind the beauty of the universe and human life on our planet."

Babak is the leader and founder of IYA2009 Special project The World At Night. This program creates and exhibits stunning collections of photographs and time-lapse videos from the world's most beautiful and historic sites against a night-time backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events. The eternally peaceful sky looks the same above all the landmarks and 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.

The entire IYA2009 community congratulates Babak on this deserved award.


See the story, as reported by the Tehran Times: http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=204090

Visit The World At Night's official website: http://www.twanight.org/

Read more about Babak here: http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/photographers_about.asp?photographer=Babak%20A.%20Tafreshi


Virtual Telescope observing

25 September 2009

The first Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) remote observing session will happen today, Friday, 25 September at 1900 UT. This special event is open to all AWB Affiliate groups.

The Virtual Telescope, a remotely-operated observatory run by Dr. Gianluca Masi in Italy, allows you to log in and take part in this online star party. Share the sky with others from around the world in real time! This will be the first of many such sessions to come. Interested individuals are welcome for this important first session as well.

For more information, please visit: http://virtualtelescope.bellatrixobservatory.org/


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Organisational Associates:

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