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RAS PN 07/53: United Nations declares 2009 the International Year of Astronomy

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 April 2010 13:36
Published on Thursday, 20 December 2007 00:00
Today the UN declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. In the UK the RAS will be the lead body for IYA2009, a year which will see a plethora of events designed to boost public engagement with astronomy.

ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY PRESS INFORMATION NOTE
Date: 20 December 2007  For immediate release
Ref.: PN 07/53
 
Issued by:
Dr Robert Massey
RAS Press Officer
Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House
Piccadilly
London W1J 0BQ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3307 / 4582
Mob: +44 (0)794 124 8035
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

RAS website: www.ras.org.uk

RAS PN 07/53: UNITED NATIONS DECLARES 2009 THE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF ASTRONOMY

Today the United Nations (UN) 62nd General Assembly proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), an initiative of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). As an affiliate of the IAU the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) will be the lead body for IYA activity in the UK.

IYA2009 celebrates the first astronomical use of the telescope by Galileo — a momentous event that triggered a scientific revolution which profoundly affected our view of the Earth and the wider cosmos. Today telescopes on the ground and in space explore the Universe 24 hours a day. The declaration of IYA2009 invites the world to celebrate more than 4 centuries of scientific discovery that followed Galileo’s first steps forward and which continues to this day.

IAU President Professor Catherine Cesarsky shares this vision: “The International Year of Astronomy 2009 will give all nations a chance to participate in this ongoing exciting scientific and technological revolution.”

IYA2009 will highlight global cooperation for a peaceful purpose – the search for our cosmic origin and our common heritage which connects all citizens of planet Earth. It aims to convey the excitement of personal discovery, the pleasure of sharing fundamental knowledge about the Universe and our place in it, and the merits of the scientific method. So far 99 nations and 14 organisations have signed up to participate in the IYA2009 – an unprecedented network of committed communicators and educators in astronomy.

In the UK, our own astronomers, science communicators, educators and enthusiasts will deliver a vibrant programme of events with an international and local flavour. Some of the activities the public can look forward to are seeing craters on the Moon, taking control of a robotic telescope, creating music inspired by the stars and finding out about Thomas Harriot, the British astronomer who drew the first telescopic lunar maps a few months before Galileo.

IYA2009 activity is supported by scientists at all levels. Lord Rees of Ludlow, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer Royal fully endorses its aims: “Astronomy has an intrinsic appeal to a wide public, who can enjoy the night sky and wonder at its mysteries. It is also a science where this country has a strong tradition, and where amazing progress is being made, not least via the distinguished research efforts of UK astronomers. It's important that we use IYA to promote appreciation of our subject among young and old.”

All in all, 2009 promises to be an exciting year for astronomy. As Professor Ian Robson, Director of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and UK Single Point of Contact (SPOC) says "The UK is a world leader in astronomical and space research and we look forward to bringing the excitement and fascination of astronomy and explanations of what's up there in the Universe to the general public. 'How did it all begin?', 'How will it end?' and 'Are we alone?' are some of the most profound questions we can ask and astronomy holds the key to the answers.

The UK has by far the largest number of keen and dedicated amateur astronomers within Europe and they, along with our science centres, planetariums and universities will be at the forefront of this national effort of communicating astronomy with the public.”


From a very strong shortlist, Steve Owens of the Glasgow Science Centre has been appointed as the UK Coordinator for IYA2009. He will start in the new post at the beginning of February and a further announcement will be made then.

To keep abreast of IYA 2009 visit the UK web site

CONTACTS:

Professor Ian Robson
United Kingdom SPOC
Royal Observatory Edinburgh
Blackford Hill
Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8312
Mob: +44 (0) 07919 398610
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Catherine Cesarsky
IAU President, Chair of the IAU Executive Committee IYA2009 Working Group
Tel: +49-89-32-00-62-27
Mob: +49-171-67-47-165
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Karel A. van der Hucht
General Secretary
International Astronomical Union 
98bis bd Arago, F-75014 Paris, France

Home institute:
SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research
Sorbonnelaan 2, NL-3584CA UTRECHT, the Netherlands    
Tel: +31-30-2535729/5600
Mob: +31-6-53-960237.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IYA 2009 Secretariat  
Pedro Russo
IAU & ESA/Hubble, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-320-06-195
Mob: +49-176-611-00-211 / +351-962854775
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
UNESCO Contact
Yolanda Berenguer
Space Education Programme Coordinator
UNESCO HQ, Paris
Tel: +33-1-45684171
E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IAU Press Officer/Secretary of IAU IYA2009 Executive Committee Working Group
Lars Lindberg Christensen
ESA/Hubble & IAU, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-89-32-00-63-06
Mob: +49-173-3872-621
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Royal Astronomical Society:
http://www.ras.org.uk


International Year of Astronomy 2009 home page and press release:
http://www.astronomy2009.org/
http://www.astronomy2009.org/content/view/344/116/

IAU home page:
http://www.iau.org/


NOTES FOR EDITORS

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3000 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) was founded in 1919.  Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.  Its individual members are professional astronomers all over the world, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, and active in professional research and education in astronomy. The IAU also maintains friendly relations with organizations that include amateur astronomers in their membership. As of September 2006, the IAU has 9,783 Individual Members in 87 countries worldwide. 64 of those nations are National Members.