IYA2009 Updates

News round-up, 6 March 2009

6 March 2009

Another news round-up already? Fridays are definitely getting closer together. Fact.

The 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project is nearing fever-pitch, with kick-off occurring in under a month. Their official blog is a great place to see what's going on, and get a feel for the initiative. To be up to speed with a single click, consider People's Weekly World.

SciLands Virtual Continent has been advertising perhaps the most unusual IYA2009 event reported in these updates so far. On Friday 6 March, participants in the Second Life virtual world will be able to see two lectures, streamed from Chicago's Adler Planetarium. The first is from the Cosmic Diary's Brother Guy Consolmagno, who will be talking about "the Galileo affair". Following him, Ohio State University Prof of Astronomy Scott Gaudi will be discussing exoplanets and life in the Universe. I'm a bit vague on the whole Second Life thing, so just follow the link for more details, ok?

More Adler Planetarium news! They're pulling out the stops this week as they're also showing two new astronomy movies and announcing an exhibition about 400 years of the telescope. Medill and Chicago Breaking News have more information, so get clicking.

Physics World have just released an IYA2009 special issue, available to download free of charge for a short period of time. It boasts features on Earth-like planets, giant telescopes, and returning to the Moon. They've also written a review of the Cosmic Diary on their website. The content has even been mentioned on other sites, such as Tech News Watch. Congratulations, Physics World!

Light pollution is a recurring theme during IYA2009. Artificial lighting drowning out the stars is becoming ever-more of a problem. The Canberra Times is helping to keep momentum up by reporting about the wasted light frustrating astronomers and the public alike in the Australian city of Sydney.

Staying Down Under, Impulse Gamer (news they insist is "not just about games", maybe they should change their name then) has posted the programme of events coming up at the Melbourne Planetarium. Topics range from backyard astronomy to travelling throughout the Universe. Apparently visitors will have the opportunity to a chat with the planetarium's astronomer, enjoy wine and cheese, and be immersed in a planetarium experience. So in case you missed that, BOOZE.

That's plenty to tide you over until next week.

Remember that these updates are almost exclusively English-language based. Check local sources and your favourite news aggregator sites as well (e.g.: http://news.google.com), to complement these overviews.

Lee Pullen
IYA2009 Staff Writer



IYA2009-Themed Physics World Available for Free to News Media

6 March 2009

PHYSICS WORLD MARCH 2009 ISSUE AVAILABLE FREE TO MEDIA: Special Issue Features Articles About International Year of Astronomy 2009

To mark UNESCO's International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), six leading astronomers from the UK, the US, Europe, and Asia write in March's Physics World about the biggest challenges and opportunities facing international astronomers over the next couple of decades.

Many of those challenges are purely scientific, including the quest to clarify the true nature of dark matter and dark energy; the search for extra-terrestrial life among the myriad of extrasolar planets that are set to be discovered; and finding the first stars that formed after the Big Bang.

Other challenges are political -- including the need for mass international collaboration to fund and manage astronomical facilities, many of which are being so large and expensive that no single country can afford them alone. For example, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, which is being built in Chile, involves astronomers from the UK, US, and Japan.

The contributors are Catherine Cesarsky, President of the International Astronomical Union, Martin Rees, the UK's Astronomer Royal, Tim de Zeeuw, Director General of the European Southern Observatory, John Huchra, President of the American Astronomical Society, Andrew Fabian, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Seok Jae Park, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute.

All contributors express optimism about the future of global astronomy, reflecting on the advances that new facilities promise: from the Planck Satellite making detailed observation of fossil radiation, due to take off next month; NASA's planned joint dark energy mission; 2013's launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to help answer questions about the Universe's very first stars; and the European Southern Observatory's European Extremely Large Telescope, which, if built, could be the "world's biggest eye on the sky".

As Tim de Zeeuw, Director of the European Southern Observatory, writes, "Technological developments now make it possible to observe planets orbiting other stars, peer deeper than ever into the universe, use particles and gravitational waves to study celestial sources, and to carry out in situ exploration of objects in our solar system. This promises tremendous progress towards answering key astronomical questions."

But, as Seok Jae Park, President of the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, says, "The greatest challenge for astronomy is international collaboration, because building big and expensive telescopes can no longer be accomplished by a single country alone. It is my hope that IYA2009 will enable astronomers from around the world to create a new tradition of cooperation in astronomy."

Catherine Cesarsky, President of the International Astronomical Union, underlines her wish during IYA2009 to communicate the joys and benefits of astronomy. "It is [the] sense of discovery and awe that astronomers wish to share with our fellow citizens all over the world.

We thus hope to stimulate a long-term increase in student enrolment in science and technology, and an appreciation for lifelong learning."

Also in March's IYA-themed edition:

  • The abundance of Earth-like planets will be determined in the next five years, with profound implications for the prevalence of life in the universe. Alan Boss, an astrophysicist at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, DC, describes the coming revolution in extrasolar planetology.
  • The Moon has been neglected by space scientists and astronomers alike since the Apollo days, but now we want to go back. Paul D Spudis, from the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, US, explains what motivates the new vision of lunar exploration.
  • Astronomers are planning a new generation of extra-large telescopes that will provide fascinating insights into the universe. But as Robert P Crease, historian at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, finds out, choosing where to locate these and other big facilities can require challenging interaction with the local communities involved.

Note to reporters/editors:

Members of the news media may obtain a free PDF of the entire March 2009 issue of Physics World by sending a request to Joseph Winters, IOP Publishing Press Officer, by e-mail at joseph.winters@iop.org. (PDF files can be opened and printed using Adobe Reader software, available freely for all computers at http://get.adobe.com/reader.)

For a limited period, anyone may register on the Physics World website and download a free PDF of the entire March issue at http://www.iop.org/News/news_33077.html.


The World at Night Newsletter - 5 March 2009

5 March 2009

- The World at Night introduces Beautiful Universe 2009 as the official promoting product of TWAN-IYA2009 world-wide events. Published by Sky&Telescope, the special issue features TWAN and a collation of some of the most rewarding images from The World at Night archive. TWAN global exhibition and event organizers receive this product with special half-price discount from Sky&Telescope to distribute during the events. Please contact us for further information.  

- The first TWAN exhibition in East Asia started in Seoul, Korea on March 1, 2009. The exhibition of 42 The World at Night artwork photographs is displayed in CheongGye Gallery and will continue until March 22, 2009. Read more.

- In January, during the opening events of International Year of Astronomy 2009, TWAN events joined the celebration in Paris and Germany. A virtual reality all-around image from TWAN exhibition in UNESCO-Paris is viewable here. The complete report of the events will appear on TWAN website soon.

- The new Events page explains how and where TWAN exhibition and educational events will take place. TWAN calls for the best world-wide venues to host the events during International Year of Astronomy 2009 and beyond.  There are plans for hold TWAN events in about 30 countries. The progressing Event Calendar lists some of them.  


- There are new stunning photos and time-lapse videos on TWAN website, featuring starry nights of the planet's landmarks from Australia, Asia and Middle East, to Europe and Americas:




Southern Stars and Erupting Volcano  (Hawaii) by Wally Pacholka

The Sound of Cosmos  (Hawaii) by Wally Pacholka

Mauna Kea Milky Way Panorama (Hawaii) by Wally Pacholka

New Year at -40°  (Alaska) by LeRoy Zimemrman

Crescent Moon over Sentinel Spire  (Colorado, time-lapse video) by Thad V'Soske

Summer Nightfall on Grand Mesa  (Colorado, time-lapse video) by Thad V'Soske



Alberta Trails   by Yuichi Takasaka



Cactus Milky Way  by Stephane Guisard

Telescopes in Action  by Serge Brunier




Big Dipper and Historic Ruins  by Tamas Ladanyi

Wolf Moon  by Tamas Ladanyi



Matterhorn Winter Night  (time-lapse video) by Bernd Proschold



Friuli Night  by Babak Tafreshi



The Blue Sky and Orange Castle  by Babak Tafreshi



Christmas Trees  by P-M Heden



Circle 'round the Moon  by Laurent Laveder

Moonbow  by Laurent Laveder

Moon Meets Jupiter and Mercury  by Gernot Meiser



Navarre Eclipse  by Juan Carlos Casado


Asia and Middle East


Garden of Light   by Shingo Takei

Moon and Swamp Weasels  by Shingo Takei



Orion to Canopus  by Tunc Tezel

Four Seasons of Lake Venus  by Tunc Tezel



Conjunction of Art  by Oshin Zakarian

Eclipse in Morning Light  by Babak Tafreshi

Moon and Venus above Isfahan   by Oshin Zakarian

Black and White  by Oshin Zakarian

Winter Dream   by Babak Tafreshi



Meteor and Pinnacles  by John Goldsmith

Heart of Solitary  by Shingo Takei

Ocean Eclipse  by Shingo Takei


Guest Gallery is a a well-received section on TWAN website to feature selected outstanding Earth and sky photos by non-TWAN creative photographers from around the globe. If you have such remarkable photos to share with TWAN Guest Gallery, please contact us.  


- Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), a NASA's world-known website, has featured six new TWAN photos:

Mauna Kea Milky Way Panorama by Wally Pacholka

Circle 'round the Moon by Laurent Laveder

The Milky Way over Mauna Kea by Wally Pacholka

Annular Eclipse: The Ring of Fire by Dennis Mammana

Comet and Meteor by Babak Tafreshi


- TWAN is featuring six special galleries:

Latest Images

Dark Skies Importance

Cosmic Motions

World Heritage Sites


TWAN Podcast


TWAN is a global program of Astronomers Without Borders (www.astrowb.org) and a Special Project of International Year of Astronomy 2009, an initiative by IAU and UNESCO. The World at Night is to produce and present a collection of stunning photographs of the world's most beautiful and historic sites against the nighttime backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events. The eternally peaceful sky looks the same above all symbols of different nations and regions, attesting to the truly unified nature of Earth as a planet rather than an amalgam of human-designated territories.


Building bridges through the sky

The World at Night




Top 10 images of the world at night@MSNBC

4 March 2009

The night sky, shown here in its brilliance over Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border, is the forgotten half of our environment, says Mike Simmons, the president and founder of Astronomers Without Borders. Simmons, along with coordinator Babak Tafreshi, are producing a project called The World at Night, or TWAN, which aims to remind us of our place in the universe through a series of stunning night sky images, made from familiar landmarks around the world.
"It is more than something beautiful; it is something that is part of our world," he says of the night sky. More information: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29470549/

Mark your Calendar to take part in the 2009 GLOBE at Night campaign set for March 16 - 28, 2009

4 March 2009

Here is an opportunity for students, youth, and families to take part in a 2 week world wide citizen science project to record night time light pollution across the world.  One needs to merely go outside, look up, observe the stars from your location, and record your star observations at www.globe.gov/gan.


You'll find instructions on how to find your longitude and latitude without a GPS (you may also use a GPS if you have one), there is a family activity packet, and information about observing stars and light pollution in your nighttime sky.

The GLOBE at Night program directs students, families, and the general public how to observe and record the number of stars visible in the constellation Orion, as seen from different locations. Observers report their results online by comparing their view of Orion with a set of template images on the program's Web site, which shows the number of stars in the constellation for a range of visibilities from bright skies to very dark.

2008 marked a monumental shift in human history when the number of people living in cities exceeded half the people on Earth. Because of the ambient light of urban landscapes, many city dwellers have never seen a sky full of stars. The 2008 campaign received measurements from 62 countries. Just over 4,800 of the measurements came from the United States, followed by 380 measurements from Hungary; and Romania, the Czech Republic, Costa Rica, and Spain each reporting over 100 observations.

2009 GLOBE at Night campaign set for 16 - 28 March, 2009.    www.globe.gov/gan

Five Easy Star-Hunting Steps:

1) Find your latitude and longitude.

2) Find Orion by going outside an hour after sunset
(about 7-10pm local time).

3) Match your nighttime sky to one of our magnitude charts.

4) Report your observation.

5) Compare your observation to thousands around the world.

The 2009 Globe at Night event is sponsored by: 

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) 
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) 
CADIAS (Centro de Apoyo a la Didáctica de la Astronomía) 
IDA (International Dark-Sky Association) 
ESRI (http://edcommunity.esri.com and http://www.esri.com)


100HA: Hubble Has a Winner!

4 March 2009

The public has voted on where they want to aim their favorite space observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope.

And the winner is -- drum roll, please -- a pair of close-knit galaxies that look like they are shaking hands -- or rather spiral arms.

Out of a total of 139,944 votes cast online by the public since the "Hubble, You Decide" contest opened on January 28, nearly 50 percent favored the interacting pair of spiral galaxies called Arp 274 (from the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies) over five other celestial candidates.

Hubble has shown that interacting galaxies are very photogenic because, under the relentless pull of gravity, they weave elegant twisted lanes of dust and stars, and brilliant blue clusters of newborn stars. The new picture of Arp 274 promises to reveal intriguing never-before-seen details in the galactic grand slam.

The Hubble observations will be taken during the International Year of Astronomy's "100 Hours of Astronomy," taking place from April 2-5. The full-color galaxy image will be released publicly during that time.

For more information, visit: http://YouDecide.Hubblesite.org



IYA2009 Updates

27 February 2009

Dear Friends,

Here are some short updates from the last week.

100 Hours of Astronomy updates
100HA Junior: http://groups.google.com/group/unawe-100h
New resources: http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/all-content
Online event registration: http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/eventsmain
Logos in 23 languages: http://www.astronomy2009.org/resources/multimedia/images/detail/100hastronomy/

GLOBE at Night Ready for IYA2009
The fourth edition of the international star-counting program GLOBE at Night is poised for wider participation than ever from March 16-28, as a key activity in the Dark Skies Awareness Cornerstone effort of IYA2009. More information: http://www.globe.gov/GaN/

The world-renowned Deutsches Museum is planning a series of events to celebrate IYA2009
These include exhibitions and programmes. For more information, visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/158/

IYA2009 forges links with the European Year of Creativity and Innovation
The European Commission has decided to mark 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The aims of the year are to raise awareness of the importance of creativity and innovation; to disseminate good practices; to stimulate education and research. Click for more: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/161/

AthenaWeb, IYA2009 Media Partner, have turned their eyes to the stars and the skies in celebration of IYA2009
See what they're up to here: http://www.athenaweb.org/backoffice/newsletter/preview.php?id=12

IYA2009 Videos on YouTube
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 embraces new technology, and its ability to empower people from all around the world. Couple this with IYA2009 being a global endeavour, and it is no surprise that IYA2009 related videos have been cropping up on the popular website YouTube: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/162/

Texas Legislature Celebrates International Year of Astronomy 2009
The 81st Legislature of the State of Texas will honour the state's two flagship universities with a joint resolution, recognizing their cutting-edge research and outreach efforts in astronomy in  celebration of 2009 as the official International Year of Astronomy. More information: http://www.astronomy2009.org/news/updates/159/

JENAM2009 IYA2009 Symposium
Last year the JENAM2008 meeting in Vienna, Austria, was an excellent occasion to exchange ideas about the IYA2009 and what was to come. This year,  we will have another opportunity to get together and to present our IYA2009 activities, events and projects and exchange experiences and thoughts. We are organising a symposium during JENAM2009/European Week of Astronomy & Space Science focused on two key aspects of IYA2009: outreach in terms of communicating astronomy with the public; the educational value of astronomy in attracting young people into science and technology studies at school and beyond. The latter is deliberately meant to be wide-ranging, from the very young, (covered by UNAWE), through secondary schooling and career choices.A huge number of events are planned across Europe, so contributors are invited to share these exciting ideas. Because much of the year will remain after the meeting, this is an excellent opportunity to learn from each other and gather new ideas for events in the latter part of 2009.
IYA2009 Symposium webpage: http://www.jenam2009.eu/default.asp?contentid=1380
For more information and to register, please visit the symposium webpage: http://www.jenam2009.eu/

If you need any assistance, remember that the Secretariat is always available for you.


Pedro, Mariana and Lee
IYA2009 Secretariat    

News round-up, 27 February 2009

27 February 2009

It's time for the weekly launch of the Round-up Rocket, blasting its way to Planet News!

A project begun two years ago in preparation for IYA2009 has finally come to fruition, UPI.com and Ansa.it bring to our attention. An Italian team of astronomers, scientists and historians have been building a telescope using Galileo's original design. I wonder if it has a computerised GOTO mount.

IYA2009 has begun in Scotland! Edinburgh Guide has outlined some important notes, including the fact that the Scottish Government is providing over £100 000 to help fund a range of public astronomy events during the year. Meanwhile, Prensa Latina has given a little bit of headline space to Cuban IYA2009 celebrations, which will include contests, workshops, and campaigns.

The mural-sized astronomical images being exhibited in the US are making their way to MiraCosta College, reports Village News. The grand unveiling is accompanied by a free public talk, sweetening the deal. The wonderfully-named town South Bend has also been gifted with mural images from NASA, according to local news source WSBT.com.

The Shreveport Times says that Lousiana's Science Centre is celebrating IYA2009 with a series of programs and activities. These include looks at the Messenger space probe, and studying the electromagnetic spectrum. The article is titled "Sci-Port to celebrate astronomy Friday" which is certainly cheerier than the site's latest headline, "Shreveport police investigate overnight stabbing".

A key aim of IYA2009 is boosting astronomy education, so it's excellent seeing positive moves in that direction reported by the media. Take Clarion University for example, which has been running a programme called "Integrating Astronomy into the Curriculum". The project has been inspired by IYA2009's goal of ensuring that every person has an astronomy related educational experience in 2009.

Over to India now, and Express Buzz has run an interesting story about renowned science writer and State Institute of Encyclopaedic Publications Director K Pappootty. He has been saying that "the knowledge of astronomy is a vital necessity for the development of new generation". He has also spoken out against the misuse of astronomy by astrologers, so he deserves an extra point.

Many astronomy clubs are running events to mark IYA2009. This is the theme of an article by The Punekar, which includes some quotes from people organising activities. Remember that if you're an amateur astronomer, you can do something similar!

Remember that these updates are almost exclusively English-language based. Check local sources and your favourite news aggregator sites as well (e.g.: http://news.google.com), to complement these overviews.

Lee Pullen
IYA2009 Staff Writer


100 Hours of Astronomy latest updates

27 February 2009

New Resources

We have added a number of new resources over the last week, these can be found at http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/all-content

Educational -  These resources cater to students, teachers, instructors, informal and formal educators. We  indicate whether the material is specific to a given country,  age-range (from kindergarten to university) and who the material will be of most interest to. All material is in English unless stated otherwise. This list is by no means complete, and we welcome your suggestions for additional items-- please email Terry Bridges ( tjb@astro.queensu.ca)

Stickers - For those groups wanting to give something small to the members of the public who participated  your 100 hours Starparty Event, we have put together three stickers - 'I Saw the Moon', 'I Saw the Sun' and 'I Saw Saturn.' These are downloadable, 30 labels per page and compatible with  Avery 5160 labels. Note: If you would like a sticker made for your event, but want different wording,  please send a jpg image, black font on white background of the words, no bigger than 252 pixels x 45 to Jennie at farmcoveobs@xtra.co.nz

Online Event Registration

We have recently added translated instructions on 'How To Register your 100HA Event'. This document is proving popular and has been helpful to a number of users. A huge thank you to the following people for kindly translating our document into different languages for the 100HA global audience  - these pdf's are downloadable here http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/eventsmain

  • Spanish: Bruno Sanchz-Andrade Nuno        
  • Indonesian: Avivah Yamani           
  • French: Michael Fortin
  • Japanese: Ayani Kazuya                           
  • Mandarin: Fong Moore                   
  • Romanian: Valentin Gigore 
  • Portuguese: Ricardo Cardose Reis             
  • Russian: Sergey Karpr                 
  • German:Gernot Meiser and Pascale Demy

If your country has its own web site for registering your 100 Hours of Astronomy events, please don't forget to register on the global web site at http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/eventsmain as well.  This is where many people will come first and there are several ways for them to find your event.  Support your national effort by raising the number of events shown in your country, too, in the new by-country map at http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/component/eventlist/countriesmap !

100 Hours Junior

We welcome the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) as a 100 Hours of Astronomy partner. This is a collaboration between 100 Hours of Astronomy and Universe Awareness (also an IYA global cornerstone project) to connect amateur and professional astronomers with young children around the world during (and perhaps after) 100 Hours of Astronomy. Visit their website and show your support - 100 Hours Junior

Don't forget to visit our Blog, Picture Gallery and Forum pages

These are good places to share new ideas, upload pictures from your events, get advice and find answers to your questions about organizing or attending 100 Hours of Astronomy events.  http://100hoursofastronomy.org

Show your colors

100 Hours of Astronomy store is open for business at Cafe Press at http://www.cafepress.com/100HA .  Resources for identification and advertising are available for download on our web site at http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/all-content but if you want something ready-made Cafe Press will supply it.  The artwork used on the Cafe Press items is also available for download in our Resources section so you can have your own merchandise made locally or do it yourself.

More information:

Jennie McCormick MNZM

100 Hours of Astronomy Coordinator

IYA 2009 Cornerstone Project

2/24 Rapallo Place

Farm Cove, Pakuranga

Auckland 2012

New Zealand


Skype: jennie999

Email: farmcoveobs@xtra.co.nz



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Organisational Associates:

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