IYA2009 Updates

The Cosmic Diary is six months old today!

1 July 2009

The Cosmic Diary is six months old today! Thanks to the Cosmic Diary bloggers, the site now has over 1000 posts! This is a significant number and is testament to the bloggers dedication. Cosmic Diary.org received more than 98,000 visitors since its launch, which means we are very close to the 100,000 mark. This will be a great achievement, and is certainly something to be proud of.



IYA2009 on rails in Slovenia

1 July 2009

Ten trains decorated with astronomy themed panels will travel across Slovenia from June to December 2009.

This joint initiative of RailAd and the Slovenia IYA2009 National Node will publicize IYA2009, as well as the FETTU exhibition in Ljubljana, that can be seen at the Tivoli Park until the 4th of September 2009.

This project is sponsored by the Slovenian Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and by Slovenske ┼żeleznice , the Slovenian railway company.


More information: http://www.astronomija2009.si/


Belfast looks to the sky for inspiration

30 June 2009

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and this month in Belfast, Northern Ireland, the Belfast City Council is recognising the contribution of space to society through a myriad of social events. 

The "From Earth To The Universe"  UK outdoor exhibition, on the grounds of the Belfast City Hall, offers the passer-by a great visual and entertaining cosmic spectacular on the lawns of the City Hall until 17 July. "Look up!" was the title for the Carnival, officially endorsed by the new Alliance lord mayor Naomi Long.

BEAT, Belfast's carnival company, has been working with artists and community groups from all across the city to bring the streets alive on Carnival day. 

A celestial feast of astronauts, astronomers, Sun and Moon worshippers, Men in Black, Cybermen and a varied selection of visitors from other worlds walked and danced on the streets of Belfast, much to the delight of the massed crowds. The carnival concluded with a fantastic half-an-hour concert of space themed rock music, performed by the Carnival Supergroup.

"This was such a tremendous success", said Robert Hill, Director of the Northern Ireland Space Office. "The Night Sky is free to all to observe and the 'Look Up!' theme not only recognises the impact that astronomy has had as an inspiration for generations of scientists, engineers, artists and poets but should help everyone realise their own self potential." He continued "A Carnival such as this brings together all aspects of the wider community in the province and it is great to see what we can all achieve if we really work together."

David Boyd, BEAT's Director, said: "This year, to mark 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, we have taken the space theme to Look Up and explore the stars. We are looking to the future too, as we will continue the theme into the next year."

See more...
Youtube video: short movie from Stephany Mazon
Photos: carnival photo gallery from Miruna Popescu
Videos:  interviews from Garry Gattan               carnival highlights from Garry Gattan
Music:  space concert from the Carnival Supergroup

Naming Pluto wins Best Doc 2nd Place at Palm Springs

30 June 2009

Father Films' award winning short Naming Pluto, directed by Ginita Jimenez, has scooped Best Documentary Short - 2nd Place at Palm Springs International ShortFest, USA. 315 films represented by 41 countries were programmed from more than 2,200 worldwide entries. The Jury announced 27 festival awards totalling $100,000 in production and cash prizes. Now in its 15th year, Palm Springs Short Film Festival is the largest festival and short film market in the United States.

More information: http://www.psfilmfest.org/festival/news/detail.aspx?NID=205&FID=39&year=2009


SPIE Optics + Photonics 2009 conference to celebrate IYA2009

29 June 2009

400 years of telescopic developments will be a key aspect of the upcoming SPIE Optics + Photonics 2009 conference. Held in the San Diego Convention Center from 2-6 August, it promises to be the most multidisciplinary science and engineering event in North America.

IYA2009 will see healthy representation, with more than 300 papers dedicated to astronomy. A plethora of special events, from telescope displays to stargazing at the welcome reception, all contribute to highlighting astronomy's importance in this modern age. Other features include an astrophoto wall, live data feed from the Australian Observatory, an opportunity to see a new Carbon Truss 24 inch f/7.8 Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, an exhibition of historical photos, and even an astrophoto workshop.

Other research topics timetabled at the conference include nanoengineering, solar technology, nanotechnology, and phototonics. In total, there will be four symposia, 3100 papers, 26 plenary talks, 55 courses and workshops, and an exhibition of more than 200 companies.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188 000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth.

For more information, please visit http://spie.org/x30491.xml


Stars shining within prison walls

29 June 2009

During IYA2009, people from all walks of life are exposed to the beauty and wonder of the Universe. Not wanting anyone to be left out, IYA2009 has been present in two prison facilities recently.

At Coimbra prison in Portugal, pictures of celestial objects with the IYA2009 logo and slogan were used to decorate the walls, as part of the From Earth To The Universe Cornerstone project. They were a welcome sight for the many inside the facility.

Serbia's National Node organised and ran an event for young inmates in the western part of the country. An afternoon was dedicated to astronomy with a lecture called "A Cosmic Walk", followed by an overview of IYA2009 activities.

These outreach ventures are vital given IYA2009's aim of bringing astronomy to all sectors of society and will hopefully help build a sense of hope for the future.


Ulysses mission to end during IYA2009

29 June 2009

Many space missions and astronomy projects are beginning during IYA2009, but there are also venerable operations coming to an end. One of these is the ESA/NASA Ulysses spacecraft, due to cease operations on 30 June 2009.

Ulysses was the first spacecraft to survey the environment in space above and below the poles of the Sun in the four dimensions of space and time. It has spent 18.6 years in space, making it the longest and indeed one of the most successful spaceflight missions ever. Its studies of the Sun's magnetic field have proved to be invaluable to scientists.

Now the spacecraft's power is very weak and it is becoming ever-more difficult to obtain scientific data and communicate with it. After the plug is pulled Ulysses will continue orbiting the Sun, becoming a "man-made comet" journeying through the Solar System.

More information:


Invisible Universe

29 June 2009

The essential is invisible to our eyes... astronomy and astrophysics and in particular modern cosmology have shown that most of the universe is invisible to our eyes and to the most advanced observational devices. What is dark matter and dark energy? These are the two big questions, which for their complexity and depth, broad scientific impact and beyond (several of these questions in modern astronomy strongly influence artists and philosophers as well) are the subject of the events entitled "Invisible Universe" which will take place at UNESCO Headquarters from 29 June to 10 July 2009.

More information: http://portal.unesco.org/science/en/ev.php-URL_ID=7556&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

UNAWE mural unveiled in Dublin

27 June 2009

The Universe Awareness (UNAWE) Cornerstone project has been helping with an astronomy and space exploration mural at O'Connell's School in Dublin. Pupils have created an impressive piece of cosmically-themed art, linking with IYA2009.

UNAWE is an international outreach activity that uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire very young children. A video of the O'Connell's school mural been created, available on UNAWE's website: http://unawe.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=417&Itemid=163

Upcoming conference in Hungary: Astronomy and Civilization

26 June 2009

The conference "Astronomy and Civilization", being held in Budapest on 10-13 August 2009 to celebrate IYA2009, is an exceptional multidisciplinary event which faces the most challenging questions of science, philosophy, religion and art. Its motto and central theme are based on the view that "the level of knowledge attained in all ages has been determined by the generally accepted theory of the Universe" (Paul Couderc in Histoire de l'Astronomie, 1960, page 8). The goal of the conference is to call attention to the close relationships between astronomy, natural sciences, philosophy, and civilization, and their influence in the shaping of our future.

The conference is organised by the Konkoly Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Lorand Eotvos Physical Society, and the Lorand Eotvos University. Individuals and groups interested in attending are encouraged to visit the official website, where details are readily available: http://www.konkoly.hu/AC2009/

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Organisational Associates:

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