IYA2009 Updates

Gran Telescopio CANARIAS inaugurated during IYA2009

22 July 2009

The Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) will be inaugurated at the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) on 24 July 2009, by their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain.

The GTC is a 10.4 metre telescope with a segmented primary mirror made from 36 hexagonal segments. It is located in one of the top astronomical sites in the Northern Hemisphere: the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos (ORM, La Palma, Canary Islands).

Partners in the project are the Spanish Government (through the Ministry of Science and Innovation) and the Government of the Canary Islands, the Autonomous University of Mexico (IA-UNAM), Mexico's National Institute for Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics (INAOE) and the University of Florida in the United States. The European Union has also contributed to the project through its European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Once in operation the GTC will be a powerful tool for observing the Universe, and scientists will use it to uncover many of the secrets that still await us.

The official GTC website is: http://www.gtc.iac.es/en/

More information about the inauguration is available here: http://www.iac.es/gtcinauguracion/index.php?lang=en


Job Opportunity

22 July 2009

Freelancing Web Developer for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 Cornerstone project: Galilean Nights

Following the unprecedented success of IYA2009's 100 Hours of Astronomy (www.100hoursofastronomy.org), which featured hugely popular projects such as a Global Star Party, the live 24-hour webcast "Around the World in 80 Telescopes", a Science Centre webcast, Sun Day and 100 Hours of Remote Astronomy, another series of astronomy events has been highlighted for 22-24 October 2009. This new IYA2009 Cornerstone Project is called Galilean Nights and will see amateur and professional astronomers around the globe taking to the streets, pointing their telescopes to the wonders that Galileo observed 400 years ago.

We are looking for a person with proven web development skills and experience with running web applications in the cloud (using e.g. Google App Engine, Amazon Web Services or similar) and who will help us share the excitement of astronomy through the Galilean Nights Cornerstone Project of IYA2009.

The website will be used to register the details of the hundreds of global Galilean Nights events in a searchable database, share resources such as documents, images and videos, link to Galilean Nights groups on external sites, such as Flickr or Youtube, and be a central point to share Project news and information.


  • Website programming of the Galilean Nights project, including event registration and on-line database management.
  • Integrate the graphical web design in HTML.


  • Minimum one larger web application running in the cloud in portfolio.
  • Experience with freelancing projects and ability to work independently.
  • At least 2 years of previous professional experience with web development.
  • Be able to communicate effectively in English both verbally and in writing.
  • Be able to work remotely and meet deadlines.

On top of the requirements, the ideal candidate will also have:

  • Basic experience with Adobe Photoshop
  • Some basic knowledge of astronomy and an interest in communicating astronomy.

Applicants will be able to start work straight away, with the website due to go live by the end of August 2009. On-going support of a few hours a week will be required from the end of August through to early November.

Send as soon as possible your CV and live examples of your work to Catherine Moloney (cmoloney@eso.org)



Solar Eclipse to be broadcast on the internet for IYA2009

21 July 2009

22 July will feature the longest solar eclipse of the 21st Century. At 6 minutes and 39 seconds, it will be an impressive sight for those able to see it. Visible from mainland Asia, Japan's Ryukyu Islands, and through the Pacific Ocean, the experience for people in those regions will be incredible.

To allow astronomers and the public all around the world to witness this spectacle, there are online options available to anyone with a computer and internet connection.

A high definition broadcast is being provided by http://www.eclipse-tv.com/, resulting in 900x600-pixel resolution footage, showing the progress of the eclipse live at a level not yet experienced on conventional webcastings based on webcam technology.  AstroNative Technologies will setup a live webcasting station near the centre line at the eclipse city site on Yangshan Island south of Shanghai. This location will experience a duration of 5 minutes and 57 seconds of the total phase between 9:37 and 9:43 local time (01:37-01:43 UT). The transmission will cover all phases of the eclipse starting with 1st contact at 8:24 (0:24 UT) and ending with 4th contact at 11:03 (3:03 UT).


The Chinese Astronomical Society, supported by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will be hosting a live broadcast of the eclipse. Available online at http://eclipse.astronomy2009.org.cn/english, it is an important contribution to IYA2009's goal of making astronomy accessible to all. Called "Multi-site Federated Live Broadcast of Solar Eclipse on July 22, International Year of Astronomy 2009", it will take full advantage of the latest networking, multimedia, and emerging Web 2.0 technologies. The public signal will be released to various portals, including websites, TV, and mobile phones.

NASA TV are readying themselves for an eclipse broadcast, which will be online here: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

For those fortunate enough to be in Bangladesh to see the eclipse in person, The Bangladesh Astronomical Association has arranged an observation camp at Tentulia, to observe the eclipse. For details visit:


Anyone with a competitive streak may be interested in a Space Generation Advisory Council contest to win a hamper of astronomy tools and books. Simply photograph the total eclipse and share it digitally via the photo sharing website Flickr (www.flickr.com), tagging it with "#SolarTotality2009" so that a searchable category of the eclipse's path can be drawn up. Candidates are encouraged to write to bee@spacegeneration.org with a short caption and description of their photo along with a link to it on Flickr. Great care needs to be exercised whilst photographing Solar Eclipses so you should consult learning material that will be available on http://solartotality.wordpress.com.

The IYA2009 Solar Physics Group has prepared a site to share images of this remarkable event. Available at http://eclipse22jul09.wordpress.com/, instructions for contributing are simple and involve little more than sending a regular e-mail with pictures to eclipse@solarastronomy2009.org. Check the site for details!

Flickr users can also upload pictures and short video clips to the official IYA2009 Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/iya2009/

Thanks to these initiatives, citizens of the world will all be able to share in the experience of witnessing a solar eclipse. It will undoubtedly be a highlight of IYA2009!

The Cosmic Detective helps you discover the Universe in several languages

18 July 2009

The Cosmic Detective, an official IYA2009 book, has been translated into several languages and is enjoying great success.

The German edition has sold around 1000 copies in its first month. The Austrian Government is considering the book as a primer on cosmology to be part of the school curriculum, and a Czech version is being negotiated. The ministry of science and Technology of the Government of India has adapted the book for their IYA2009 activities and are distributing 6000 copies to their nationwide science clubs to coincide with the total Solar eclipse that will be experienced in India later this month. They are also translating the book in Hindi.

More information about The Cosmic Detective is available here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/resources/products/cosmicdetective/

The following list outlines the translations, and where to find the book in different countries:

The Cosmic Detective Published by Penguin Books India.
ISBN: 9780143330691
Website:  www. penguinbooksindia.com

Der Kosmische Detektive Published by Seifert Verlag GmbH.
ISBN 978-3-902406-65-1

O Detective Do Cosmos published by Gradiva Publicações.
ISBN 978-989-616-320-4

Bishwa Jeebani published by Ananda Publishers, Kolkata.
ISBN 81-7756-660-1


IYA2009 and astronomy making headlines in Iberian Peninsula

18 July 2009

Astronomy is a popular topic with the media, and with the additional publicity afforded by IYA2009, it is good to see prominent newspapers increasing their coverage.

El Pais is a national newspaper in Spain, and has a permanent astronomy section on its website, proudly displaying the IYA2009 logo on its banner: http://www.elpais.com/especial/astronomia/

Publico is a well recognised national newspaper in Portugal and has announced today a permanent section on its website dedicated to IYA2009: http://astronomia.publico.pt/

And now another national Spanish paper, El Mundo, has launched a special  astronomy page which will be online throughout IYA2009: http://www.elmundo.es/especiales/2009/06/ciencia/astronomia/

Also, the widely distributed weekly newspaper Expresso keeps a permanent astronomy section, gathering space science and IYA2009 news: http://aeiou.expresso.pt/gen.pl?sid=ex.sections/25056&p=arquivo

Media coverage of IYA2009 is an important tool to increase public awareness of astronomy, so these are valuable steps toward achieving the Year's aims.


Good news for Dark Skies in Wales, UK

17 July 2009

The Welsh Assembly has voiced its support for dark skies. They have officially stated that the Assembly:

Supports the British Astronomical Association's Campaign for Dark Skies;
Regrets the cost of poor artificial lighting to the environment and ecosystem;
Acknowledges that the quality of many people's lives is seriously degraded by poor-quality exterior lighting;
Calls for a nationwide campaign to discourage floodlighting, over-bright and poorly directed light;
Calls on Visit Wales to promote the aesthetic and scientific value of dark sky in Wales.

For more information, please see: http://www.assemblywales.org/bus-home/bus-guide-docs-pub/bus-business-documents/bus-business-documents-state-opinion.htm?act=dis&id=137490&ds=7/2009


New Moon Landing edition of Star Walk

17 July 2009

Get ready to celebrate the Moon Landing 40th anniversary with Star Walk!

The new Moon Landing edition of Star Walk (official product of IYA2009) has been launched with a Digital Compass and Help Guide upgrade! Star Walk would love to celebrate this important event with you. Whether you are planning to do something special for this day like visiting a planetarium, watching some documentaries or simply teach your children about Apollo 11 or you will try to remember what you or your dad did on that day in 1969, we would like to listen to your stories and to award you with a prize.

Star Walk will give away promo codes and few more gifts to those people who would share with us and IYA2009 their stories about how they spent the 20th of July (2009 or 1969). If you want you can send us pictures of what you did or simply writing us your experience related to the moon landing anniversary.

Please to Star Walk, we will read everything and publish your stories on IYA2009 websites and our blog. Star Walk will also ask you to write a review about the application on some predetermined sites (only condition to give away codes...apart from having an iPhone or iPod touch).


During IYA2009, the world celebrates 40 years since the Moon landings

17 July 2009

When thinking about pivotal moments in the history of mankind, the Moon landings of 1969 will be at the top of many people's lists. It was the first time that we had left the planet Earth and set foot on a different world. People from all nations joined together to watch the spectacle as history was made.

40 years on, the impact of this momentous occasion is still being felt. It is fitting that the anniversary falls within the International Year of Astronomy 2009, as the Apollo 11 mission of 1969 popularised astronomy and brought it to the forefront of people's minds, much as IYA2009 itself aims to do.

To celebrate the Moon landing anniversary, a great many events and activities are being planned. Local astronomy groups are an excellent place to find out what is happening near you, as is your IYA2009 national node, a list of which can be found here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/organisation/nodes/national/

As an example of an IYA2009 Moon landing anniversary event, Puerto Rico is hosting a discussion panel entitled: "We came in Peace for all Mankind" to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The conversation will focus on how this event was covered in Puerto Rico and the impact on humanity from the spiritual, scientific, social and media points of view.

The public will have the opportunity to ask and discuss with this group of Experts, and the entire activity is free of charge. More information is available online:


NASA is understandably proud of this 40 year mark, and as such have prepared some special features that anyone with a computer and internet connection has enjoy. A media briefing was held at 11am EDT on 16 July, where greatly improved video imagery from the July 1969 live broadcast of the Apollo 11 moonwalk was released. It features 15 key moments from Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's moonwalk, in high quality. To allow the public to see these videos as soon as they were released, the conference was broadcast live on NASA TV: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

NASA is also streaming audio from the Apollo 11 mission at exactly the same time and date it was broadcast in 1969. It began at 6:32am on 16 July, and continues until "splashdown" at 11:51am on 24 July. This audio timecapsule is available here: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/apollo11_radio

A new interactive website has been made to involve people in the anniversary. Using real footage, users can tour the Apollo 11 landing site and learn about the most important aspects. The site's address is: http://www.nasa.gov/externalflash/apollo11_landing/index.html

Two more NASA sites provide additional information. Historical information about Apollo 11 is catered for by http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/apollo11, while NASA's Apollo 40th anniversary Web site provides easy access to various agency resources and multimedia about the programme and the history of human spaceflight, including a gallery of Apollo multimedia features: http://www.nasa.gov/apollo40th

Lunar observations have already featured in IYA2009. The Malta Committee organised a project called Moon For All Mankind, where astrophotographers from 40 countries - one for each year since the Apollo 11 landing - contributed images toward a mosaic of the Moon. See the map here: http://iya2009malta.page.tl/The-moon-for-all-mankind.htm

40 years ago the Moon landings inspired millions to look up at the Moon in wonder. Now in 2009, its legacy will mean that many more gaze at the night sky, thinking about our history in the Solar System, and future among the stars.

IYA2009 News Round-up

17 July 2009

It's that time again, when we leaf through pages of the internet and see what killer IYA009 stories have been making headlines. And what a week it's been, with the 100 Hours of Astronomy sidewalk astronomy and star party awards announcements. 100HA has also been in the blogs this week, so let's highlight a prime example, courtesy of Upamanyu Moitra's post 100 Hours of Astronomy: The Final Word. Upamanyu flew the flag for West Bengal during 100HA, and it was, as he says, AWESOME! Here's something to bear in mind though, astrodudes: the 100HA follow-up, called Galilean Nights, is currently being put together by a crack team of astronomers and communicators. It's taking place on October 23/24, and will be radical.

To Time now, who recommend celebrating IYA2009 in style with a stay in the Pic du Midi, atop the French Pyrenees. They say this is "one of the best places on earth to join the star-gazing fraternity", and it certainly sounds it. The swanky hotel's prices include telescope tours, but for 280 bucks a night, that's the least they could do.

Yo! Let's rock on over to typicallyspanish.com who have been celebrating Spain's contribution to the IYA2009 Moon for All Mankind project. This scheme got together people from many nations to each image a section of the Moon, which were then complied into a groovy mosaic. Says Typically Spanish, "Spain's segment, number 33, is by Antonio Torres Montojo, and includes, EFE reports, the crater Alphonsus, 2.7 kms deep and 108 km across, named for Alfonso X el Sabio, the king who ruled Castilla y León in the 13th Century." Hang on, they're categorised it under "Spanish Oddities". Huh! Universe Today have posted a story about Moon For All Mankind too, which includes some great images.

Astronomy at university isn't just for young, hip frat boys - grandparents can also involved, say the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To mark IYA2009, astronomy features in their ninth annual Grandparents University. Sessions are taking place on July 16/17 and 23/24. The courses are also open to grandchildren, aged between 7 and 14, which will give lessons an interesting twist. According to the itinerary, there is the opportunity to "attend a Badger picnic"... sounds like the grandparents will be entering into the grand frat boy tradition of "doin' sumthin' crazeee!"

Not to be outdone, the University of New Mexico has announced that two of its faculty members are helping out with the She is an Astronomer IYA2009 Cornerstone project. They'll be present at a free public astronomy event for girls aged 8 - 18, taking place Sunday 9 August from 1 to 6pm at the Open Space Visitor Center on Albuquerque's west side.

Before we part ways dear reader, let's whizz over to The Australian, for it would be remiss not to mention the excellent article they have there. All about IYA2009 and Australian events, it's written with a positively charming tone, and gets one hundred bonus points for this line: "This is the International Year of Astronomy -- a far more interesting topic than 2008's International Year of the Potato, which was big only in Peru and Ireland, apparently -- as 2009 coincides with the 400th year since Italian physicist Galileo turned a telescope to the skies to look at the stars." Go and read the rest of the article! After skimming the final round-up paragraph:

Remember that these summaries are English language-based, so check local sources for headlines in your own languages. Like El Pais and El Mundo in Spain, to give just two examples.


2009 Cassini Scientist for a Day

17 July 2009

In celebration of the Cassini spacecraft¹s extended mission orbiting Saturn and the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the Fall 2009 edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day essay contest is going to be INTERNATIONAL.  In the past, this contest has only been open to students from the United States. With your help, we¹d like to invite students from many other countries to participate.

Winners will be invited to submit questions about the Cassini mission to international Cassini scientists who will be attending the Cassini Project Science Group meeting at NASA¹s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in October 2009.

Contest rules for the previous version of the contest can be found here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/education/scientistforaday7thedition/rules/

Students in grades 5-12 (approximately ages 10-18) will be invited to write a 500-word essay about one of three possible targets the Cassini spacecraft will image on October 11, 2009.

Here¹s where we need your help: We need national or regional coordinators for the essay contest.  You would advertise the contest, collect essays from students in your country or region, assemble a team of judges to read the essays, and send the best essay(s) from your country to NASA¹s 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.

More information:

Rachel Zimmerman Brachman


Cassini Scientist for a Day organizing committee lead

Cassini Formal Education Specialist

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA


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Organisational Associates:

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