International Year of Astronomy: IYA2009
The International Astronomical Union and UNESCO have declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy, or IYA2009 for short. There is an excellent web site, www.astronomy2009.org, with all kinds of interesting information and links to other excellent web sites.
These activities seem to be very well prepared. For example, the stated goals for IYA2009 are:
- Increase scientific awareness
- Promote widespread access to new knowledge and observing experiences.
- Empower astronomical communities in developing countries.
- Support and improve formal and informal education.
- Provide a modern image of science and scientists.
- Facilitate new networks and strengthen existing ones.
- Improve the gender-balanced representation of scientists at all levels and promote greater involvement by underrepresented minorities in scientific and engineering careers.
- Facilitate the preservation and protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage of dark skies in places such as urban oases, national parks and astronomical sites.
(Personally, I particularly like goals 1-4.)
Some of the projects that caught my eye are:
- The Galileoscope, which seeks to connect amateur astronomers with the general public in the hopes of having 10 million people looking at the sky;
- The Cosmic Diary, a blog written by a couple dozen young people from all around the world (Serbia, Sudan, Spain, South Africa, etc.)
- The Dark Skies Awareness Project, which seeks to preserve and protect dark skies in appropriate places, such as national parks and astronomical sites
- Universe Awareness Program for young children, which offers an array of educational and entertaining materials on their web site
- From Earth to the Universe, and odd name for an effort to bring stunning astronomical images to the general public.
This is exciting, impressive and very encouraging in light of our hopes that the public will come to support science more strongly in the future!