IYA2009 Updates

Indian IYA2009 event attracts record-breaking numbers

4 August 2009

Each year, the Gandhi Corporation organises a theme fair at the Ahmedabad Education Society grounds for 11 days. In honour of IYA2009, this year's theme was space. In total, more than 700,000 visitors were introduced to the wonders of astronomy as part of this massive outreach opportunity of unprecedented scale. 

The space theme began right from the entry ticket windows whose interiors were created to mimic the flight deck of the space shuttle, preparing visitors for the trip into orbit! The long passage leading to the main gate was lined with huge posters depicting how the various parts of the space shuttle are transported and assembled.

The spectacle continued inside, with a tall model of a shuttle, complete with fair representatives dressed as astronauts, who the children were very happy to be photographed next to.  Vast representations of the Martian and lunar surfaces had also been prepared. In addition, large posters were on display and the roof was lit up with hundreds of stars, immersing visitors. 

The fair was open to the public from 22 May to 1 June 2009, during which time more than 700,000 people attended - a new record for India's IYA2009 efforts.

For more photos of the event, please follow these links:
http://tanmayespace.blogspot.com/2009/06/preparation-and-set-up-photos-of.html http://tanmayespace.blogspot.com/2009/06/participation-photos-of-vacation-2009.html


Essay finds that education may boost gender equality

4 August 2009

Called "Lost in darkness and distance: Why girls don't want to be scientists - and how the classroom might fix it", Julie Darbyshire's essay on stereotypes in science delves into the issues surrounding the under-representation of women in science careers. It suggests that different classroom approaches may provide a solution.

Gender equality is the theme of IYA2009 Cornerstone project She Is An Astronomer. Approximately one quarter of all professional astronomers are women. In some countries there are no female astronomers, whilst in others more than half the professional astronomers are female. 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. This loss, not least in terms of the financial investment in training and then losing women at higher levels, means that it is in the interest of all societies to ensure that these factors are addressed.

Read the full essay here: http://www.lablit.com/article/523
See the She Is An Astronomer website here: http://www.sheisanastronomer.org/


Israeli observatory ready for live deep-sky webcast

4 August 2009

The Bareket Observatory is an educational facility located in Israel. Their mission is to act as an educator's resource for schools and educational institutions. Open to anyone who has an interest in the night sky and wishes to have fun learning about the Universe in a scientific manner, the observatory runs many astronomy courses and classes to inspire curiosity of the night sky.

As part of this effort, and in support of IYA2009, late August will see a live webcast of deep sky objects. Sights such as nebulae, star clusters, planets, and asteroids will all be captured in real-time using the observatory's remote educational telescope system. The event will cover around 1.5 hours, meaning that participants can drop in and out as required. Explanations of the objects being observed will be provided in English. This astro-cast is free and open to all.

For more information, please visit: http://bareket-astro.com/en/telescope_internet.htm


International Light Festival to take place in Poland

2 August 2009

Between 11 and 16 August 2009, the Polish city of Torun will be hosting artists and scientists as part of the Skyway 09 - International Light Festival. The gothic old town buildings will be tastefully lit to represent history, science, and culture going hand-in-hand to educate and inspire.

Torun has a rich history in the field of astronomy, being birthplace of Copernicus and the place where present day scientist Aleksander Wolszczan - who discovered the first extrasolar planers - got his university degree. August has been chosen so that the Festival can take advantage of the annual Perseid meteor shower, a traditional highlight for stargazers.

The event promises to be a spectacular coming-together of disciplines, resulting in an unforgettable experience, and one that IYA2009 is proud to be associated with.

Skyway 09 - International Light Festival's official website: http://www.skyway09.eu/

More information about Torun: http://www.torun.pl/portal/index.php?lang=en


IYA2009 Update in the United States of America

2 August 2009

Puerto Rico celebrates the Moon landings
The Puerto Rican IYA2009 team have successfully organised a discussion panel celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. Called "We Came in Peace For All Mankind", it was held at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño in San Juan on 12 July 2009. Panelists included experts in science, journalism, religion, and social sciences. A report on the event has been produced, and is available here: http://www.astronomy2009pr.org/Apollo11.html

Hubble's Diverse Universe Premiere Viewing
10 July at 7pm and 11 July at 2pm at MAAT Science Village, 408-14th St., Oakland, CA Hubble's Diverse Universe, a film by Jarita Holbrook and Romeel Dave, is a 45-minute documentary focused on the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA on the careers of individual astronomers. The film is supported by a NASA Education and Public Outreach Grant and the International Year of Astronomy 2009 USA. After the showing, there will be a question and answer period with team members. A one minute preview can be found here: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~holbrook/HubbleT.wmv and additional clips are at: http://astronomy2009.us/storytelling/hubbles-diverse-universe/

Year of Science
July is the Astronomy Month for the Year of Science. Doug Isbell and Jarita Holbrook are blogging for them, Andy Fraknoi has provided links and materials, and Denise Smith has written a special issue of their newsletter. IYA2009 is prominently mentioned. See: http://www.yearofscience2009.org/themes_astronomy/celebrate/ (and continue by pushing the next button).

ASP Updates
Astronomy Behind the Headlines. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is happy to announce the first episodes of Astronomy Behind the Headlines, a series of podcasts for informal science educators. Each month, we'll give you a look behind the latest headlines in astronomy and space science and provide links to related resources and activities so you can interpret these exciting topics for your audiences! Visit our webpage to listen to the latest episode, access related resource and subscribe via iTunes or XML: http://www.astrosociety.org/abh/

Simple Effective Education and Dissemination (SEED) grants for astronomy researchers available for 2009 from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Thanks to the support of the Planck and Herschel Missions, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is offering SEED Grants for 2009 to active researchers in astronomy, astrophysics, or space science to engage in public outreach, K-14 formal education, or informal education programs or activities. Maximum grants are $2,500; funds may be used to purchase equipment related to the proposed EPO activity, or to defray expenses associated with carrying out the activity. Given the nature of the Planck and Herschel Missions, SEED Grant proposals involving cosmology, galaxy studies, solar system investigations, and space science will be given special consideration. Proposal submission deadline is July 31, 2009, with announcement of awards by September 15, 2009. To learn more and to review the simple guidelines for proposals, go to: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/grants/grants.html

New Higher Scholarship Funding Available for Two Days of Hands-on Astronomy and Earth-science Education Workshops for 4th -12th Grade Teachers and Others near San Francisco, Sept. 12 - 13, 2009. Thanks to generous supporters of astronomy education, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is pleased to announce that scholarships to cover expenses up to $750 are now available for educators who want to attend a weekend of hands-on workshops and exciting science talks offered as part of the 120th anniversary meeting of the non-profit Society at the Westin Hotel near the San Francisco Airport in Millbrae, California. For more information, please go to the meeting web site at: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html or go directly to the workshops page at: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/2009mtg/workshops.html New information and programme details will be posted as available.

Register for the ASP meeting in September. Just a reminder to register for the ASP meeting which will include IYA2009 sessions: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html


IYA2009 Update

31 July 2009

International Astronomical Union celebrates its 90th anniversary during IYA2009
Of the many special anniversaries occurring throughout 2009, one of the most important marks 90 years since the formation of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Read about it here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/388/

IYA2009 Planets & Pictures World Tour
For tour dates of Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition (APE) & Gustav Holst's The Planets (TP), please see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/395/ and for photos from previous shows, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/josefranciscosalgado/sets/72157611312100860/

The origin of galaxies: lessons from the distant universe
ESF-FWF Conference in Partnership with LFUI in the framework of IYA2009: http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=5261
International UNAWE Workshop

4th International Universe Awareness (UNAWE) workshop taking place in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday and Sunday August 8-9, 2009: http://www.unawe.org/site/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=439:4th-international-unawe-workshop-rio-de-janeiro-brazil-august-8-9-2009&catid=211:international-workshops&Itemid=159

How does a country's support for astronomy depend on its economy?
Astronomer John Hearnshaw gives some answers on his Cosmic Diary Blog: http://cosmicdiary.org/blogs/john_hearnshaw/?p=428

Experience the Planets
Sunlight shining through the rings of Saturn. Planet-wide dust storms cloaking Mars in pale obscurity. Images such as these only emphasize nature's ability to amaze and inspire. But what haven't we seen in our own solar neighborhood? What fantastic vistas has science predicted but so far been unable to capture?
More information:http://www.experiencetheplanets.com/

Interview with Carmen A. Pantoja, Puerto Rican Single Point of Contact
Puerto Rico's SPoC is Carmen A. Pantoja, a radio astronomer working at the Department of Physics of the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan campus. The IYA2009 Secretariat caught up with Carmen to ask some questions about IYA2009, Puerto Rico, and the importance of astronomy. Read the interview here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/393/

Experience a virtual journey to the lunar Peak of Eternal Light during IYA2009
The first public showing of 'The Peak of Eternal Light', a new movie created using images taken by ESA's SMART-1 lunar orbiter, took place on 20 July 2009 at the Ars Electronica Center (AEC), Linz, Austria. This movie was shown as part of a special event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, during this International Year of Astronomy. More information: http://astronomy2009.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=45347

Scoping out the Galileoscope: A Gscope review
Check the Galileoscope review on MSNBC Cosmic Log: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/07/22/2004797.aspx

Lunar mosaic earns a Guinness World Record
A team of astronomers in the UK have used specialist cameras and high-end amateur telescopes to produce a professional-quality mosaic of the Moon - earning them a Guinness World Record. For details, please see: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/389/

UNESCO Member States donate Galileoscopes
Galileoscopes are low-cost telescopes designed to let curious eyes peer at the night sky and unveil secrets of the heavens. Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) are ensuring that as many countries as possible will receive some of these instruments. The following countries will each receive a minimum of 100 Galileoscopes: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda. To learn more about Galileoscopes, please visit the official website: https://www.galileoscope.org/gs/

Romania boosts IYA2009 with two high-profile events
Romanian IYA2009 enthusiasts are rightfully proud of two initiatives which have proved to be very successful. Learn about them here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/386/

IYA2009 Activities during the IAU GA in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

IYA2009 News Round-up

31 July 2009

With the rest of the world attending the International Astronomical Union's General Assembly in Brazil, one plucky staff writer keeps things ticking over, wielding the news round-up like a mighty sabre. What has it been cutting swathes through this week?

Taiwan News has been promoting an astrophotography exhibition at the National Museum of Natural Science. Over 90 works from professional and amateur astrophotographers across Taiwan are on display, conveying "the impressive beauty of atmospheric phenomena and human's concern about the universe." The article doesn't say how much tickets cost. Atmospheric phenomena seem more impressive when they're free to view.

Congratulations, Steamboat Pilot & Today! Your article has made it into the news round-up! It's a good ‘un about the IYA2009 project to observe mysterious star Epsilon Aurigae. Details about the star and why it's so special are given, along with a serving of history and science for good measure. Delicious.

And now, a musical interlude. Of sorts. Times Colonist reports that a classical concert in Canada is bringing out a selection of tunes from Holst's The Planets to act as a crowd-pleaser and to honour IYA2009. The article also provides us with rhetorical question of the week: "Who wants to sit outside on a warm summer evening and sob?"

For space-related snippets, every week German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) is asking one of its experts to answer an astronomy question, to support IYA2009. This week you can learn about colliding galaxies. 

Now it's time to sheath the sabre once more, until it is called upon to bring news to the masses again. Which will be next week.


IYA2009 Planets & Pictures World Tour

30 July 2009

IYA2009 Planets & Pictures  World Tour
Astronomical Pictures at an Exhibition (APE) & Gustav Holst's The Planets(TP)
Photos from presentations available here.

May 11, 2008 - River Forest, IL, USA (APE)
May 12, 2008 - Chicago, IL, USA (APE)
Aug 22, 2008 - Chicago, IL, USA (TP)
Oct 04, 2008 - Wheaton, IL, USA (TP)
Oct 14, 2008 - Wheaton, IL, USA (TP)
Oct 16, 2008 - Wheaton, IL, USA (TP)
Oct 17, 2008 - Piestany, Slovakia (APE, TP)
Dec 11, 2008 - Orange County, CA, USA (TP)
Dec 12, 2008 - Orange County, CA, USA (TP)
Dec 13, 2008 - Orange County, CA, USA (TP)
Dec 14, 2008 - Orange County, CA, USA (TP)
Jan 15, 2009 - Paris, France (APE)
Jan 19, 2009 - Paris, France (TP)
Feb 19, 2008 - Cuenca, Spain (APE)
Feb 28, 2009 - Delaware, OH, USA (TP)
Mar 01, 2009 - Delaware, OH, USA (TP)
Mar 20, 2009 - Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. (TP)
May 03, 2009 - Walnut Creek, CA, USA (APE 3D)
May 05, 2009 - Walnut Creek, CA, USA (APE 3D)
Jun 11, 2009 - Boston, MA, USA (TP)
Jun 12, 2009 - Boston, MA, USA (TP)
Jun 13, 2009 - Boston, MA, USA (TP)
Jun 13, 2009 - Madrid, Spain (TP)
Jun 28, 2009 - Valencia, Spain (TP)
Jul 02, 2009 - Valencia, Spain (APE)
Jul 04, 2009 - San Francisco, CA, USA (TP)
Aug 02, 2009 - Prague, Czech Rep. (TP)
Sep 19, 2009 - Kingston, Canada (APE)
Sep 20, 2009 - Kingston, Canada (APE)
Sep 20, 2009 - Torino, Italy (TP)
Oct 03, 2009 - Manzanares, Spain (APE)
Oct 10, 2009 - Toledo, Spain (APE)
Oct 12, 2009 - Fuentealbilla, Spain (TP)
Oct 18, 2009 - Venice, Italy (TP)
Oct 29, 2009 - Albacete, Spain (TP)
Oct 30, 2009 - Albacete, Spain (APE)
Oct 31, 2009 - Fuentealbilla, Spain (APE)
Nov 01, 2009 - Victoria, Canada (TP)
Nov 02, 2009 - Victoria, Canada (TP)
Nov 06, 2009 - Ciudad Real, Spain (APE)
Nov 07, 2009 - Talavera de la Reina, Spain (APE)
Nov 08, 2009 - Almansa, Spain (APE)
Feb 27, 2010 - Menasha, WI, USA (TP) 

How does a country’s support for astronomy depend on its economy?

30 July 2009

The astronomer John Hearnshaw gives some answers on his Cosmic Diary Blog: http://cosmicdiary.org/blogs/john_hearnshaw/?p=428

Interview with Carmen A. Pantoja, Puerto Rican Single Point of Contact

29 July 2009

Coordinating and helping with the organisation of IYA2009 on national levels are the Single Points of Contact (SPoC). These individuals manage country-wide astronomy popularisation efforts. They are at the forefront of the IYA2009 strategy, cementing the largest science communication network ever seen. Simply put, without their time and expertise IYA2009 would be an impossible task.

Puerto Rico's SPoC is Carmen A. Pantoja, a radio astronomer working at the Department of Physics of the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan campus. The IYA2009 Secretariat caught up with Carmen to ask some questions about IYA2009, Puerto Rico, and the importance of astronomy.

Why did you decide to get involved in IYA2009?

It was a decision involving the members of the organising committee of the IYA2009-Puerto Rico. The members are astronomers, working at the University of Puerto Rico, and are actively involved in outreach. IYA2009 represented an attractive and challenging opportunity to work together on a project to impact our community.

Could you describe the organisational structure of your IYA2009 Node?

Our node has an organising committee whose members are: Dr. Mayra E. Lebrón Santos, UPR-San Juan, Dr. Daniel R. Altschuler UPR-San Juan, Dr. José L. Alonso, UPR-Cayey and Dr. Carmen A. Pantoja, UPR-San Juan. This committee has invited all members of the NASA Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium to participate in IYA2009-Puerto Rico. We have established a working group with 25 members. These include the University of Puerto Rico, the Interamerican University, the Polytechnic University, the two principal amateur astronomy groups: "Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe" and "Sociedad de Astronomía de Puerto Rico", the Arecibo Observatory, and the Caribe Girl Scout Council. We are in contact through e-mail and through monthly meetings at the University of Puerto Rico, San Juan campus.

Why do you think astronomy and IYA2009 is important for Puerto Rico?

Astronomy is very attractive to the general public, and it is an exciting way to reach young students and children and encourage them to have a positive attitude towards science and mathematics.

How do you involve the different publics in astronomy and IYA2009 events?

In 2008 the organising committee thought carefully about the goals of IYA2009 and the particular needs of our community in Puerto Rico. An important tool we used as a guide was a study published in 2007 of the

Social Needs of Puerto Rico that was sponsored by the United Way ("Fondos Unidos de Puerto Rico") and the Non Profit Foundations: "Fundación Ángel Ramos", "Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico" and "Fundación Chana Goldstein y Samuel Levis". This study recommended outreach activities developed with the community focused on children, young, and elderly population, strengthening family interactions and values. In addition to the goals of IYA2009, in Puerto Rico we are focussed on the following:

1 - our activities should stress the value of personal effort as a way to achieve goals;
2 - reducing the fear or aversion to mathematics;
3 - showing the importance of science in daily life;
4 - showing how science and technology can help to attain a more just and peaceful society.

What activities have been run in Puerto Rico so far?

IYA2009 in Puerto Rico started with an education workshop in the summer of 2008. The goal of this was to establish a group of volunteers to help with IYA2009 activities. Mostly college-level students, they were named Starry Messengers. Through a NASA Space Grant award these students spent four days at the Arecibo Observatory learning about IYA2009 and working with the general public at the Fundación Ángel Ramos" Visitor Center. This workshop included two blind participants, and materials were used and some were developed for communicating IYA2009 to this audience. We contacted the IYA2009-Jamaica node to help us with an exhibit of poetry with the astronomical theme of poets from the Caribbean. Two poems from members of their amateur society were displayed at an Open House announcing IYA2009 at the Arecibo Observatory in 2008 with the Starry Messengers. The "Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico" sponsored two Starry Messengers to assist with the IYA2009 inauguration in Paris.

The inauguration of IYA2009 in Puerto Rico was in January and was held at the oldest cultural centre on the island: the Ateneo Puertorriqueño. The highlight of the event was a set of 14 images from the From Earth To The Universe (FETTU) collection, and a remote observing session with a telescope in Texas coordinated with Dr. Lucas Macri from the University of Texas.

Each month in 2009 there have been public talks and observing sessions throughout the island. Professors from the University of Puerto Rico have created a poem and a song to honour Galileo. We had the song recorded by one of the most popular groups in Puerto Rico: the Cantores de Bayamón. We have worked with school groups and general audiences. The set of FETTU images is now a travelling collection for schools with the theme of the Life of Stars. We have created a webpage for the Puerto Rico node to inform the public of our events, complete with important links.

For the 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) we had the enthusiastic participation of thousands of people. The activity was held at Old San Juan. We had a special exhibit: a replica of the Mars Rover from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Two JPL engineers: Alfonso Herrera and Carolina Barltrop participated of the event and interacted with the public. We had diverse activities for families during the day and night. In particular we prepared a special adapted exhibit for the visually impaired. We are very proud that the video of the Arecibo Observatory that was presented during the Around the World in 80 Telescopes webcast. Our video was prepared by undergraduate students from the University of Puerto Rico School of Communication under the guidance of Professor Carlos Malavé. 100HA integrated University professors, professional astronomers, and amateur astronomers in an observing event of a scale never before seen on the island.

We had a graduate student from the University of Puerto Rico, Ms. Gloria Isidro, visit Israel and present the activities of the IYA2009-Puerto Rico at the Science Education Conference Marking the Astronomy Year and the Darwin Theory Bicentennial. During this visit Ms. Isidro presented a workshop at the Hateed College in Afula on adapted materials in astronomy for the visually impaired.

What do you have planned for the near future, and beyond 2009?

To celebrate the Apollo 11 mission we have organised a discussion panel with experts from different fields to discuss the mission from spiritual, scientific, social and media points of view.

Members from the Sociedad del Caribe will visit the Dominican Republic to collaborate with astronomy public talks and observations in this country of the Caribbean.

In October we are looking forward to the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Puerto Rico. Several of the experts attending this professional meeting have offered to give presentations and workshops for schools and the public. During October we will have the theme of the Solar System and planets. The Puerto Rico symphony orchestra will present "The Planets" by Gustav Holst. We are planning to have several family activities during the Galilean Nights Cornerstone project in October.

We will publish an eight-page astronomy newspaper insert in the autumn, funded with a NASA IDEAS award.

We expect our closing event will be the NASA FETTU exhibit travelling to different locations on the island.

The working group for IYA2009-Puerto Rico has expressed interest in continuing the coordinated collaboration for science outreach beyond 2009.

Which challenges have you had to face as the Single Point of Contact for Puerto Rico?

One of the challenges is to manage time efficiently so the working groups can run smoothly, and the other is financial, to be able to provide the necessary materials for volunteers and the public.

Do you have any message for other IYA2009 supporters?

IYA2009 will be memorable for all those who have participated and a great experience. I would congratulate all the persons involved in IYA2009, the organisers, and the public that attend the events and make this effort worthwhile.



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Organisational Associates:

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