Friday, January 1, 2010

The International Year of Astronomy Success

The year 2009 will go down in history as one of the most successful years for astronomy. This is due to the efforts of International Year of Astronomy (IYA) program. The mission for the IYA was: The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. The aim of IYA is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among youth, in astronomy and science under the central theme: "The Universe: Yours to Discover". Boy! did they ever...

I do not always throw a bunch of figures at you but this world wide experience warrants it so hang with me for a bit. the most impressive figures for the IYA2009 have come from the national activities that have brought hundreds of thousands of people together in many countries for astronomy-themed events. For example, more than 400 000 people gathered for the Sunrise Event on New Year’s Day in Busan City, South Korea. The 2009 Brazilian Olympiad of Astronomy and Astronautics saw more than 750 000 students participate from 32, 500 schools. In Paraguay, the IYA2009 launch featured a concert with more than 1600 musicians and an audience of over 15 000. In Norway, every student from grades 5-11 will soon receive a free astronomy kit, including a Galileoscope and an educational guide. For the first time in postal service history, and in just six months, more than 70 postal agencies around the world have issued over 140 new stamps inspired by astronomy.

In April, the highly anticipated 100 Hours of Astronomy extravaganza kicked off. This planet-wide celebration involved over 100 countries and thousands of events, with more than two million people taking part in observing events. Widely regarded as an outstanding success, 100 Hours of Astronomy brought people from all seven continents together with the help of a live 24-hour webcast called “Around the World in 80 Telescopes”. This groundbreaking broadcast was watched by over 150 000 individuals. The Hundred hours kicked off the event at My Home Observatory in Cincinnati Ohio. Home to the oldest Continuously used telescope The 12" Merz und Mahler (1842) You need to step up to this scope in your lifetime. I feel very fortunate to be associated with this scope even in a small way. Lord Rosse scope is another that brings goose bumps to me.

160,000 Galileoscopes, Low cost telescopes that actually do a better job than Galileo's telescope were gobbled up by the public. I did a meteor presentation in August and had the honor and privilege to put one of these beauties together for a Scout leader. They wanted to have something to take out in the field and show their scouts the wonders of the night sky. I just had to help this lady out! I was impressed with the scope and for 20 dollars US? Galilean Nights was a complete success in October with with meteor watches to star parties to even Food and Stars party in Australia! Just like the 100 hours of Astronomy, Hundreds of thousands were reached and shown a good time

On the internet side of things,The Cosmic Diary Cornerstone project continues to flourish. Professional scientists are blogging about their lives and work, giving the public an insight into what it is really like to be a researcher. Since its launch on 1 January 2009, the Cosmic Diary has recruited over 60 professional astronomers from 28 countries. There have been well over 1000 blog posts, attracting more than 100 000 visitors. In fact I started my Blog site dedicated to the IYA. I have enjoyed every minute of the experience.

IYA was right up my alley because I speak to thousands of people every year about astronomy through presentations at the Fernald Nature Preserve (pictured), to schools, to Star parties, to you name it. I look forward to another great year in astronomy. My resolution this year is to increase the visibility of astronomy and the sciences. We have so many things happening in astronomy. New discoveries of exoplanets on nearly a daily basis, Seeing to the center of our galaxy, I could go on for a week on new discoveries logged this year. My question for you is: What are you going to do to share the beauty of the night skies with your kids or fellow Man? Your mission is to get out and do something! until then...

Clear skies and great seeing too!

Steve T

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