IYA2009 Updates

London's National Portrait Gallery exhibits portraits of astronomers

5 May 2009

Respected astronomers are getting the star treatment in London's National Portrait Gallery. Well-known stargazers will be featuring in the Portraits of Astronomers gallery, to celebrate IYA2009.

A new portrait of the Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, painted by Benjamin Sullivan, will be taking centre-stage. Alongside it will be other paintings and photographs, some only obtained recently from renowned photographer Lucinda Douglas- Menzies. Preferring to work with black and white images, Lucinda's passion has led her to release a book called Portraits of Astronomers, many pictures from which will feature in the gallery.

The exhibition is running from 12 July 2009, in Room 38 a. For more information about Portraits of Astronomers and the National Portrait Gallery, please visit the official website: http://www.npg.org.uk/


The Sixth International Conference On The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena

5 May 2009

The Sixth International Conference On The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena

celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first astronomical uses of the telescope


                Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti

            Dipartimento di Astronomia, Universita` di Padova

                 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova

                           Specola Vaticana


                            sponsored by

                         Universita` di Padova

                  Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica

                       Agenzia Spaziale Italiana

      Comitato nazionale per le celebrazioni galileiane 2009-2010

                     Societa` Astronomica Italiana


                Venezia (Italy), October 18-23, 2009




The Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, the Astronomy Department of Padua University, the INAF-Padua Astronomical Observatory, and the Vatican Observatory are jointly organizing the sixth international conference on "The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena" (INSAP) to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first astronomical uses of the telescope.

The Conference will be held on October 18-23, 2009 at Palazzo Franchetti in Venice, Italy. The Conference venue is one of the premises of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. It faces onto the Grand Canal and it is surrounded by a garden.

The Conference will explore humanity's fascination with the sky, which has been a strong and often dominant element in the human life and culture. It provides a meeting place for scholars from a variety of disciplines and artists to present and discuss their studies on the cultural impact and inspirations of astronomical phenomena. The list of topics discussed in the previous INSAP conferences is available at the INSAP web site http://www.insap.org/insap/

The first day of the Venice Conference will be devoted to Galilean contributions.

ATTENDANCE: The attendance will necessarily be limited to 170 participants. We suggest that interested individuals register as soon as possible.  The form for the registration and submission of the abstracts for the oral and poster contributions is available at http://www.astro.unipd.it/insap6/registration.html

REGISTRATION FEE: The registration fee 350 EUR if the payment is made from 15 February 2009 to 15 June 2009 and 400 EUR if the payment is made from 16 June 2009 to 15 September 2009. It includes the welcome party, four lunches, nine coffee breaks, abstract booklet, conference proceedings, and a bronze medal especially produced by the Padua University to celebrate Galileo and the International Year of Astronomy 2009.

We are considering a reduced fee for the participants not attending the full Conference. Please contact insap6.astro@unipd.it for details.

Payment of the registration fee can be done online via the "Payment Services" page of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. This page is linked from the page http://astro.unipd.it/insap6/registration.html of the Conference website where all the details about payment are given.

INVITATION LETTER: To receive an invitation letter please send an e-mail to the Conference address: insap6.astro@unipd.it

PROCEEDINGS: We are negotiating with the Memorie della Societa`Astronomica Italiana to publish the Conference proceedings in their main Journal.

INFORMATION: Full information on the participants, scientific programme, venue, and transport will be available on the Conference web site http://www.astro.unipd.it/insap6/

ACCOMMODATION: Venice is one of most beautiful and attractive cities in the world. We recommend you to make directly your own hotel reservation, taking into account that for not expensive accommodations well-advanced booking is suggested. A list of some hotels close to the Conference venue and general web sites for hotels in Venice is available at http://www.astro.unipd.it/insap6/accommodation.html

Accommodations can be also booked through the following travel agent:

Destination Venice

by Venice Receptive Service Srl

Campo San Luca, San Marco 4590

30124 Venezia (Italy)

Tel: +39-041-5283547

Fax: +39-041-5203236

E-mail: roberto.boem@destination-venice.com

Web site: www.destination-venice.com

Art exhibitions in Venice can be arranged by contacting directly the travel agent. Please mention that you are going to attend the conference  to be held in October at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti.

The previous INSAP conferences took place in 1994 in a retreat at Rocca di Papa in Italy, near the Vatican Observatory, in 1999 at the International Office of the University of Malta, in 2001 at the Palermo Observatory in Italy, in 2003 at the Oxford University, and in 2005 at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago.

Details about these conferences are available at http://www.insap.org/insap/

We are looking forward to meeting you in Venice.

Francesco Bertola and Enrico Maria Corsini

SOC Co-Chairs






F. Bertola (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

M. Bolt (Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum, Chicago, USA),

N. Campion (University of Wales, Lampeter, UK),

G. V. Coyne, S. J. (Specola Vaticana, Vatican City),

C. Impey (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA),

R. P. Olowin (St. Mary's College, Moraga, USA),

D. W. Pankenier (Lehigh University, Bethlehem, USA),

R. L. Poss (University of Arizona, Tucson, USA),

V. Shrimplin (Independent Art Historian, London, UK),

R. M. Sinclair, Chair (Centro de Estudios Cientificos, Valdivia, Chile),

G. N. Wells (Ithaca College, USA)




C. Barbieri (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

P. Benvenuti (Universita` di Padova, Italy),

F. Bertola, Co-Chair (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

G. F. Bignami (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

C. Chiosi (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

E. M. Corsini, Co-Chair (Universita` di Padova, Italy),

E. Dalla Bonta` (Universita` di Padova, Italy),

J. G. Funes, S. J. (Specola Vaticana, Vatican City),

R. Gratton (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy),

M. S. Longair (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

P. Rafanelli (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy),

A. Renzini (IVSLA, Venezia, Italy)





Smithsonian Photography Initiative Celebrates IYA2009

5 May 2009

During May and June, the Smithsonian Photography Initiative offers three ways to celebrate both the International Year of Astronomy and the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observation with a telescope by Galileo Galilei.

Call for Entries

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative invites the public to contribute images and stories to "click! photography changes everything" (http://click.si.edu), an online exhibit that explores how photography influences every aspect of people's lives. This month's focus is "Seeing Other Worlds":

Blog Interaction

Visit the Smithsonian's photography blog, "THE BIGGER PICTURE" at http://blog.photography.si.edu, which presents an inside look at the Smithsonian's photography collections and invites audiences to engage in an online discussion with guest contributors from the Smithsonian about photography's powerful impact on the world. Throughout May and June, the blog discussions will focus on photography, astronomy and the broader notion of exploring "other worlds" to celebrate the beginning of the International Year of Astronomy. Guest bloggers will include staff from the National Museum of American History's, National Air and Space, Smithsonian magazine and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

Visit Flickr Commons

In honor of the International Year of Astronomy, new images are being added to the Smithsonian Institution's photostream at The Commons on Flickr. The Chandra X-ray Observatory set features images made by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which was launched and deployed by the Space Shuttle Columbia July 23, 1999, and is the most sophisticated X-ray observatory built to date. Chandra has the largest, most-precisely shaped and aligned and smoothest mirrors ever constructed. It is helping scientists better understand the hot, turbulent regions of space and answer fundamental questions about origin, evolution and destiny of the universe. Chandra's images are 25 times sharper than the best previous X-ray telescope. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Mass.

About the Smithsonian Photography Initiative

The Smithsonian Photography Initiative exists to increase public understanding of the photography collections from the Smithsonian's museums, research centers and the National Zoo. Leveraging emerging new media, SPI seeks to create new opportunities for research and scholarship about the cultural impact of photographs. Through interactive online exhibitions, publications and educational outreach, SPI is dedicated to engaging new and existing Smithsonian audiences in a dialogue about the nature and meaning of images today.


Touching the Edge of the Universe world premiere

5 May 2009

ESA will present the world premiere of Touching the Edge of the Universe, a stunning new planetarium show, starting 7 May 2009 at 30 planetaria in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The premiere comes just days before the launch of Herschel & Planck, two of the show's starring missions, scheduled for 14 May.

Both missions will make fundamental contributions to astronomy and cosmology and serve as Europe's cornerstone contribution to the 2009 Year of Astronomy.
In 1609, Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope at the sky, discovering worlds unknown and proving that Aristotle's long-held theories on the cosmos were in fact wrong. His findings marked the beginning of an intellectual revolution that continues today, underpinning much of modern science.

Touching the Edge of the Universe tells the story of astronomy from the time of Galileo and his simple optical telescope to today's sophisticated space astronomy missions. Viewers will experience an entirely new view of the cosmos conveyed through stunning 3D graphics and a professionally acted script, much of which was shot on location at various ESA Establishments.

Content based on latest knowledge

The show includes the most current knowledge based on the research of scientists working on present and future ESA missions.

Providing a 360° 'full dome' projection, the show takes the audience on a breathtaking voyage of discovery, from Galileo's 16th Century Tuscan villa to the tense countdown, launch and orbiting of the next generation of space telescopes - and out into the Universe.

"The ESA planetarium show provides a lively and compelling picture of space exploration today and what it means for people in everyday life," says Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin, ESA's Project Manager for the show.

"It also reminds us that scientific exploration remains a grand project, just as during the time of Galileo and Kepler, 400 hundred years ago," she adds.

ESA partnership with European planetaria

More than 30 German-language planetaria located in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are partners in Touching the Edge of the Universe. These planetaria offer some of the best connections between formal academic learning and the power of infotainment.In addition to complex digital imagery recorded using 'green screen' substitution techniques, the show includes detailed and accurate 3D renderings of Herschel, Planck and ESA's future Mars Rover, as well as of Europe's Ariane 5 launcher.

Professional actors from the Kiel theatre were employed to ensure a truly authentic educational experience.

ESA will also release the English-language version in June this year.

These premieres will be followed by further releases throughout 2009. ESA scientists and managers will be on hand at several of the premieres for an introductory talk.

Further information at http://www.planetariumshow.eu


Jocelyne Landeau-Constantin
Head of Corporate Communication Office,
ESA/ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany

Tel: +49-6151-902696
jlc @ esa.int

Show premieres

World premiere in Berlin, Vienna and Lucern, 7 May 2009

Vienna - Zeiss Planetarium Wien
Berlin - Zeiss Großplanetarium Berlin
Lucern - Planetarium Luzern
Grand openings in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, May 2009

8 May 2009
Planetarium Hamburg
Nicolaus Copernicus Planetarium, Nürnberg
Planetarium Klagenfurt
Planetarium Sigmund Jähn Rodewisch, Rodewisch

9 May 2009
Planetarium Herzberg
Planetarium Drebach
LWL Planetarium Münster
Planetarium Laupheim

11 May 2009
Planetarium Cottbus

12 May 2009
Zeiss Planetarium Bochum
Planetarium Osnabrück

13 May 2009
Mediendom der Fachhochschule Kiel

14 May 2009
Planetarium Jena
Wilhelm Foerster Sternwarte Berlin


Sand & Flower Festa 2009 in Japan themed after Galileo and the IYA2009

4 May 2009

The 22nd Sand & Flower Festa 2009 in Minamisatsuma is being held from May 2 to 6 at Fukiage Beach in Kagoshima Prefecture. The history of this festival dates back to 1987 when they planned to activate the city by making large sand sculptures using sand of Fukiage Beach. The size of the event has grown up to welcome 150 thousands visitors last year. The theme of sand sculptures is Galileo Galilei and the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Obviously this festival is one of the official events of the IYA2009.


Seiichi Sakamoto, one of JAXA's bloggers on the Cosmic Diary was invited as a delegate of the IYA2009 Japan Committee and JAXA to give a public talk there.

Read more about it on www.cosmicdiary.org


Sand & Flower Festa 2009 official website


A CIRCLE OF PEACE: StarPeace builds bridges between four countries.

4 May 2009

To promote the universality of the heavens, astronomers from 4 countries across Asia held a simultaneous public stargazing party on the night of May 1, 2009 under the aegis of Starpeace. 2009 has been declared as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) by UNESCO, and Starpeace is a special project of the IYA, promoting peace and harmony by holding synchronised star parties for the public all over the world.

The participating countries were Oman where Dr. Saleh Said Al-Shidhani organized the StarPeace party in Muscat. In Iran, StarPeace Members observed in Pasabandar, a coastal village in Southeast of Iran. In Pakistan, Khalid Marwat held a stargazing night for people in Karachi harbor while the Society of the Sun organized a public star party at the PIA Planetarium in Lahore. On the other side of the border, Manoj Pai from Delhi and Narendra Sagar Gor from Bhuj observed the heavens in sync with their counterparts.

In Lahore, visitors to the Planetarium and members of the public were treated to fantastic views of the planet Saturn and the Moon. For the first time, hundreds of people were able to see the rings of Saturn and its moon, Titan. People were also mesmerised by views of craters on the Earth's Moon and the seas of solidified lava which are not discernible to the unaided eye. The astronomers who fascinated the public with views of the heavens were Maroof Mian (6" telecope), Behzad Anwar (4.5" telescope) and Umair Asim (14" telescope), the latter being the largest telescope in Lahore.

During the event, Hassaan Ghazali from the Society of the Sun led the exchange of greetings with counterpart astronomers over the phone. A message of peace from a group of enthusiastic children from SOS children's villages was relayed to them. The message was three simple words uttered by every Pakistani, every day--"We Want Peace!"

The real face of our Earth has no borders on it, just like the sky above us. In times of such geo-political turmoil in the region, events like Starpeace build bridges between nations which are united under the same sky. Omani, Iranian, Pakistani and Indian astronomers show that astronomy breaks down borders and instills a sense of oneness amongst society.




IYA2009 Update

2 May 2009

INOVARTE 2009 Contest rewards Portuguese astronomy-themed craft work 

INOVARTE aims to promote traditional Minho craftwork by encouraging innovation and creativity, as well as the use of new technologies and materials. For the 2009 edition of INOVARTE the organisation teamed up with the Portuguese Astronomical Society and the IYA2009 National Node. See more: http://www.astronomia2009.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=140&Itemid=154

Mauna Kea brand IYA2009 trading cards
Collect all cards and learn about astronomy! Download them here: http://www.naoj.org/IYA/Cards/

The Starry Messenger
An educational film drama to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009, made by members of the Centre for Astrophysics Research at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. The official site is http://star.herts.ac.uk/starry-messenger/

The 90th anniversary of the 1919 solar eclipse
In May 1919, astronomers launched an historic expedition to observe a total solar eclipse. Historians now recognise this expedition as a major achievement of 20th century science. Information about the upcoming celebration is available on the IYA2009 site: http://www.astronomy2009.org/globalprojects/specialprojects/1919/

Belgium Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy voices support for IYA2009
The Belgium Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy has been presented with a low-cost telescope by Minister for Science Policy Sabine Laruelle during an IYA2009 event in Belgium. Read about it here: http://www.premier.fgov.be/fr/content/remise-dun-galil%C3%A9oscope-au-premier-ministre-0

Galilean Nights: new IYA2009 Cornerstone Project
Following the unprecedented success of IYA2009's 100 Hours of Astronomy, 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, and Sun Day, another weekend of astronomy events has been highlighted for 23-24 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. Read more here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/251/

Cosmic Diary features the hottest topics in astronomy
The Cosmic Diary Cornerstone Project encourages professional astronomers to talk with the public about their work. The bloggers have each been challenged to write a feature article about their area of expertise, using easy-to-understand language to translate the nuts and bolts of their scientific research. A new feature article is released every two weeks! Read them here: http://cosmicdiary.org/features_archive.html

IYA2009 boosts GLOBE at Night to record number of dark-skies observations
The global citizen-science campaign GLOBE at Night 2009 recorded 80 percent more observations of the world's dark skies than the programme's previous record -- including double the number of digital measurements -- thanks in large part to active participation and publicity from the network of 140 countries currently celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009. For more, visit http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/258/

Vito Technology releases the new 1.5 version of Star Walk
Vito Technology releases the new 1.5 version of the best seller educational application for stargazing Star Walk. With more than four months in the top 25 (appstore - education category) Star Walk is making it possible for everybody to admire the sky, to understand it better, and to have fun looking at the wonders of the Universe. More information and additional links can he found here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/257/

From Earth To The Universe Update
By the beginning of May 2009, two major installations of "From Earth to the Universe" (FETTU) will be open in the United States in two of the country's largest airports. On 4 May, FETTU will be unveiled at the Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. Around the same time, FETTU will premier at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Each of these FETTUs will contain over 50 astronomical images prominently displayed throughout the airports. The FETTU Calendar can be seen here: http://www.fromearthtotheuniverse.org/table_events.php

Astronomical Chocolate
Coinciding with the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the ninth edition of the International Contest of Chocolate Figures has chosen astronomy as its theme. The fourteen figures presented have proven that astronomy allows for multiple and creative representations. For mouth-watering details (in Spanish), click: http://www.pasteleria.com/noticias/view/chocolate-astronomico/01777

UK Minister for Science, Lord Drayson: Why is Astronomy important?
The UK Minister for Science, Lord Drayson, gave an opening address at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science meeting held last week at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. The Minister spoke to Astronomy Now, an IYA2009 Media Partner, about why he thinks astronomy is important. See the video here: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/254/

EAAE Course on Astronomy Education
The course will take place from 26 November  - 1 December and will be held in the CSIC Headquarters in Madrid. At this event several different kinds of activities will be presented by astronomers, university professors and secondary school teacher members of EAAE-WGSS. The course is for school teachers interested in astronomy even if they only have limited knowledge in this field. The course is not aimed at experts. The preliminary theme of this course is "Adventure in teaching Astronomy". The aim of the organisers is to promote very active participation and the exchange of ideas. General information will be available through the EAAE website: http://www.eaae-astro.org/

Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future
The 120th Anniversary Meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
September 12 - 16, 2009
Westin San Francisco Airport Hotel, Millbrae, California
Registration is now open and abstracts are being accepted! You can submit abstracts for 90-minute sessions, 10-minute oral papers, or poster papers on a wide range of topics in space-science and Earth-science education and outreach. A proceedings volume will be published as part of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference series. For details, go to: http://www.astrosociety.org/events/meeting.html


News round-up, 1 May 2009

2 May 2009

Another day, another dollar. Another Friday, another weekly IYA2009 news round-up!

The Belfast Telegraph has a feel-good story about pupils in Northern Ireland participating in a science project. Called "Stargazers", it's been designed by Newspapers in Education at the Belfast Telegraph for Key Stage 2 pupils to celebrate IYA2009. Participating classes receive workbooks with fun astronomy activities, and there are certificates for those who complete the project. Schools even get a digital camera for every 25 pupils they register. I'll find 25 kids and sign them up if there's a Nikon D700 in it for me. Still on the theme of astronomy for children, Examiner.com has listed seven websites designed to inspire future stargazers.

National Astronomy Day is the focus of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on 2 May, says The Morning Journal. There will be presentations and demonstrations, while kiddies can make sundials and design their own constellations. Also mentioned are planetarium shows most weekends at the Sidney Frohman Planetarium, at 2130 Hayes Avenue, Sandusky.

Dundas Star News wins the award for shortest mention of an IYA2009 event. Apparently the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers will be holding public observing events on 2 May, in the Lakeland Community Centre on Van Wagners Beach Road. That's in Canada, incidentally. The University of Texas at San Antonio dedicated more words and a generic photo to their article about the third instalment of the "Friday Nights, Celestial Lights" series. There will be the usual night-sky observations, but people are more likely to be lured in by the promise of seeing "the campy sci-fi film, ‘Queen of Outer Space,' starring Zsa Zsa Gabor." IMPORTANT: "Seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis."

TD Monthly has recommended Celestron's FirstScope as an ideal entry-level astronomical telescope. These things are positively nifty, and they're an official product of IYA2009, so it's good all round.

Do you like astronomy? Do you like pots? Would you like to combine these interests? Obviously the answer is yes, so it's fortunate that NWI.com's Guide to Local Potpourri listings is on hand to help. This United States-based activities listing has an impressive variety of events. Let's highlight "Watch the Stars" in which Valparaiso University Observatory staff allow the public to use computer-controlled telescopes to observe the stars, and "Satellites and Space Probes", a presentation by the Merriville Community Planetarium. After attending those, why not go along to the "Plant Sale" in Hobart, pick up some ceramic pots, and decorate them with astronomically-themed images...

...which certainly isn't as strange as the ninth edition of the International Contest of Chocolate Figures choosing astronomy as its theme. Pasterleria.com has the details in Spanish, Astronomy2009.org has a summary in English. Never before has the Solar System looked so delicious.  


Lee Pullen
IYA2009 Staff Writer


IYA2009 Boosts GLOBE at Night to Record Number of Dark-Skies Observations

30 April 2009

The global citizen-science campaign GLOBE at Night 2009 recorded 80 percent more observations of the world's dark skies than the program's previous record-including double the number of digital measurements-thanks in large part to active participation and publicity from the network of 140 countries currently celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).

Now in its fourth year, GLOBE at Night encourages people everywhere to observe the prominent constellation Orion at least once over a two-week period and compare the number of stars that are visible using their unaided eyes with a series of charts that show how Orion would appear in skies ranging from very dark to very bright skies.  The program is designed to aid teaching about the impact of excessive artificial lighting on local environments, and the ongoing loss of a dark night sky as a shared natural resource for much of the world's population.

The 2009 campaign, held from March 16-28, garnered 15,300 geographically "mappable" measurements of Orion, nearly 7,000 more than the previous record of 8,491 that were contributed in 2007. Only 1 percent of the 15,456 observations in 2009 were "flagged" as not mappable. The percentage of flagged observations was reduced markedly this year thanks to a new online tool that helps identify the country from which the observation originated.

Measurements were received from more than 70 countries in the 2009 campaign, with 17 countries reporting more than 100 Orion measurements.  About 73 percent of the total measurements came from the United States (approximately 11,270 observations), including all 50 states and the District of Columbia, followed by Chile (about 900), the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (both over 200).  Other countries reporting more than 100 observations were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Spain and Turkey.

In addition, 19 countries contributed another 1,474 "mappable" digital measurements using handheld Sky Quality Meters (SQMs).  Two-thirds of the SQM measurements were from the US, with nearly 200 from Chile.  Romania and Mexico followed, with over 70 and 60 SQM measurements, respectively.

The full data set will be posted soon for download and local use at www.globe.gov/GaN/analyze.html; a map viewer that can compare GLOBE at Night data across the years is already available there.

"There were particularly spirited GLOBE at Night SQM measurement campaigns in the U.S. states of Indiana, Oklahoma and Connecticut, and in the country of Chile," said Dr. Connie Walker, associate scientist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, and chair of both the U.S. and international IYA2009 working groups on dark-skies awareness

For example, a campaign in and around Mishawaka, Indiana, led by astronomy outreach coordinator Chuck Bueter, produced 3,400 Orion measurements.  Bueter worked with 14 schools in the Penn-Harris-Madison (PHM) School Corporation in northern Indiana to have students answer the question, "How much of the night sky have we already lost?"

Along with Art Klinger, director of the PHM planetarium, Bueter worked with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students preparing them to answer this question.

Nearly 6,500 students in grades 3-8 quantified sky glow across the district through 3,391 visual observations of Orion. A small group of students from each PHM school also measured their local sky glow with hand-held SQMs. After all the classes discuss and interpret the results, teams from each school will build a model out of LEGO® blocks to show visually how much has been lost.  A subset of students will then present recommendations to the school district's energy education manager and to the PHM School Board.

Fourteen schools in Chile took visual and SQM measurements during GLOBE at Night in partnership with Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena and the Centro de Apoyo a la Didactica de la Astronomia (CADIAS).  Dr. David Orellana (director of CADIAS), Daniel Munizaga (staff assistant at CADIAS) and Hugo Ochoa (outreach coordinator at CTIO) worked with the Ministry of Education to identify 14 "star teachers" who excel in science.  Even though many of the classrooms were at remote locations, Orellana, Ochoa and Munizaga traveled to the schools to train the teachers and students on how to use the SQMs.

As a result, 793 Orion measurements and 74 SQM measurements were reported from Chile. An additional 112 Orion and 112 SQM measurements were taken by Orellana, Ochoa and Munizaga around CTIO in an effort to monitor year-to-year changes in the night-sky brightness around NOAO observatories.

In Norman, Oklahoma, high school students, their teachers and local amateur astronomers produced a map of nearly 500 SQM measurements that canvassed their city.  Local teacher and amateur astronomer Eileen Grzybowski, with students Brittany, Emily and Braden, then made a well-received presentation of the results to their local Environmental Control Advisory Board.

"They want us to partner with them and be the outside agitating voice in the newspapers and elsewhere to put the issue of revising our lighting ordinances front and center," Grzybowski reported. "They made suggestions as to how the presentation could be revised to make a bigger impact.  They want us to obtain pictures taken from the sky down to the Earth from an airplane and pictures of our ground-based sites of high light pollution and dark oases, and they want us to include data about security issues and cost savings.  Our next step is to go before the City Council and do the light demo and discuss our preliminary results."

Three elementary schools in Willemantic, Connecticut, and Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Connecticut. collaborated with national and international partners on the GLOBE at Night program. Their partners included a fifth grade class in Waynesville, OH, a sixth grade science class in Mirimichi, New Brunswick, Canada, a high school class in Slatina, Romania, and a school in Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.  In all, their team consisted of 10 teachers and about 150 students.

As with the PHM schools in Indiana, the Connecticut-based team had several training sessions for students and teachers.  The first session introduced "light pollution," Orion, moon phases and how to build a simple telescope.  Each classroom then held training sessions on how to record the measurements, access the GLOBE at Night Web site and use the SQM.  Also, during the new moon phase, the students practiced using an SQM at home so that they would be ready for Globe at Night.  Finally, the schools had a Skype/Bridgit session with Walker, as the GLOBE at Night international coordinator, and that included all of their long distance partners in a final training and questions and answers session.

Other special training in GLOBE at Night and related dark-skies awareness activities delivered to groups such as the "Astronomy from the Ground Up" network of small science and nature centers fostered by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and the National Science Foundation, 146 amateur astronomers that are part of the ASP-NASA Night-Sky Network, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers, also played a role in the greater participation this year, according to Walker. 

Workshops at several science teacher and professional astronomy conferences also helped to broaden audience participation, Walker said. As a partner in the Dark Skies Awareness cornerstone, the International Dark-Sky Association highlighted GLOBE at Night and dark skies outreach at its annual meeting as well with resources online. Using technology to provide a multitude of platforms to fit people's needs made trainings more widely accessible via online forums, videoconferencing, teleconferencing, and blogs.

More audiences were reached by promoting GLOBE at Night through various list serves such as for IYA, professional and amateur astronomical societies, and Astronomers Without Borders. An educational kit available through the training process, which will continue to be available, provided the coordinator or educator with a simple but effective light shielding demonstration, a Sky Quality Meter, and a CD and two DVDs with resources on dark skies education and GLOBE at Night.

Dark-Skies Awareness is one of 11 global cornerstone projects being supported by the International Astronomical Union's IYA2009 effort. "Through the International Year of Astronomy, the GLOBE at Night campaign was able to reach a wider and more diverse audience," Walker said.  "Its simplicity in approach and adaptability to different audiences, as well as the access to effective educational resources that it provides, has also helped increase the level of participation. In the coming year, the GLOBE at Night team plans to keep the momentum going and to increase people's connectivity with astronomy and dark skies awareness."

For more information on a variety of IYA2009 dark-skies awareness programs, including its three primary star-hunting projects (such as the Great World Wide Star Count from October 9-23), a planetarium show, a presence in Second Life, and joint programs with U.S. national parks, amateur astronomers and some of the greatest environmental photographers in the world, see www.darkskiesawareness.org.

To learn more about IYA2009 internationally, the cornerstone projects, and other activities please visit www.astronomy2009.org.  

The U.S. IYA2009 program is supported by the National Science Foundation and NASA, and by private donations.  The American Astronomical Society is the U.S. liaison to the IYA2009 program via the International Astronomical Union.  Key U.S. partners include the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

GLOBE at Night is a collaboration between the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ; The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, in Boulder, CO; the Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc. (ESRI) in Redlands, CA; the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) in Tucson, AZ; and the Centro de Apoyo a la Didactica de la Astronomia (CADIAS) in Altovalsol, Chile.  NOAO (www.noao.edu) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. (AURA), under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.


Vito Technology releases the new 1.5 version of Star Walk

30 April 2009


Vito Technology releases the new 1.5 version of the best seller educational application for stargazing Star Walk. With more than 4 months in the top 25 (appstore - education category) Star Walk is making possible for everybody to admire the sky, to understand it better and to have fun looking at the wonders of the universe.

For this new release Vito Technology collected customers' feedback and followed them strongly improving existing features and adding new functions. The result of the new version is an application with amazing graphics, enhanced speed, more images and information. Star Walk can be used to satisfy all curiosities about stars, planets, constellations, to share information, and not only it can be a nice help to study astronomy, to have fun with friends and many used it as a cool ice breaker at parties!

The main features that so far our stargazers loved have been: traveling in time to look at different events (like eclipses) in the sky on specific dates, the lunar phases and the discovery of constellations images and the reason of their shape. In this new version all those functionalities remain and have been improved with an even greater number of stars and constellations to look at, better and more precise images, more reliability and more speed. See the list below of improved features:

1. Reduced loading time (2x)
2. Real 30 FPS
3. Improved search function
4. Improved constellations images and shape

Vito technology included new features that will make the application more fun and interesting:
1. Additional options:
• constellations on&off button
• sounds on&off button
• magnitude selection (allows you to show in the sky only stars with chosen brightness)
2. Spatio-temporal bookmarks
3. Pictures of all constellations (from 10 upgraded to 110)

Star Walk remains the official product of IYA 2009 and continues making astronomy enjoyable for everybody. Vito Technology is convinced that with this upgrade Star Walk has simply become the iphone app to have to wow your friends, to show them your favorite stars, constellations and impress them with its images. There are many opportunities for which Star Walk can be used and enjoyed, here are some of the suggestions collected from users:


Star Walk can help with your astronomy essay - Zach April 2009
Stark Walk can keep your children entertained while they play dreaming of becoming astronauts - Anonymous April 2009
Star Walk is the perfect idea to spend a romantic night with your partner - Ron February 2009

'feeling like Captain Janeway on the Starship Voyager? Priceless' - http://figjamandlimecordial.com/

'I've been using it, and letting our children use it, on the clear nights we've had recently...and we have absolutely loved it. I'm really enjoying Star Walk. You have created a wonderful app...thank you!' - Judd (NASA)

Since it entered the mobile software market in 2001 VITO Technology Inc. has developed an impressive portfolio of products for Windows Mobile. The latest VITO Technology's endeavour includes iPhone and Web 2.0 software development.

© VITO Technology 2009. All rights reserved.

Useful links:

Star Walk in iTunes: http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=295430577&mt=8
Watch Star Walk in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ECsFEfrrwU

Vito Technology Official Page: http://vitotechnology.com


For more information contact:

Alex Samokhvalov

VITO Technology

Tel/Fax +7 383 3320013



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Organisational Associates:

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