A Year to Celebrate Astronomy
The universe is yours to discover
In 1609, Galileo Galilei pointed a telescope for the first time at the sky and opened a new world of discovery. With his crude telescope, he spied mountains and craters on the Moon, stars that were invisible to the human eye, and moons around Jupiter. That event changed humankind's view of the universe, initiating 400 years of astronomical discoveries.
To mark the 400th anniversary of Galileo's achievement, the United Nations (UN) has proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). The goal of the Year is to spark worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme "The Universe, Yours to Discover." IYA 2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that represent an important shared resource for all nations.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will coordinate the Year's activities and events.
The man who started it all
Since 1959 the UN has designated International Years to draw attention to major issues and to encourage international action to address concerns that have worldwide importance. The UN, for example, proclaimed 2008 the International Year of the Potato, the International Year of Planet Earth, the International Year of Sanitation, and the International Year of Languages. In addition to the International Year of Astronomy, 2009 marks the International Year of Reconciliation and the International Year of Natural Fibers.
More than 100 countries have signed up to participate in the IYA 2009 celebration.
Check out the official IYA Web site, http://www.astronomy2009.org, for activities and events planned for IYA 2009.