11 January 2008
Paris 03 January - Four hundred years ago, Galileo gazed at the stars for the very first time through a telescope. In celebration of the first use of this ground-breaking invention, the United Nations proclaimed 2009 the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) and designated UNESCO as its lead agency. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) will act as implementing body.The IYA 2009 will mark the importance of astronomy and its contributions for society and culture. It will highlight the merits of science and its methods. Astronomy has not only inspired humankind all over the world and through the millennia but also triggered scientific discoveries and inventions with direct implications on our daily lives.
Under the theme “The Universe, yours to discover”, the Year aims at stimulating interest worldwide, especially among young people, in astronomy and science. Encouraging the spirit of discovery and sharing of fundamental knowledge about the Universe and our place in its midst, it will provide an ongoing platform for international cooperation beyond all barriers including age, race, gender, status, time, place, and space.
To date, 99 nations and 14 organizations have decided to contribute to the IYA 2009 - an unprecedented network of committed communicators and educators in astronomy.
In close cooperation with IAU, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre will pursue the “Astronomy and World Heritage” initiative launched in 2003 to promote the nomination of cultural property linked to astronomy. Many State Parties to UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (1972) have already designated national institutions which will identify the most representative sites and propose them for nomination on the World Heritage List.
UNESCO’s Space Education Programme (SEP) organizes workshops for secondary level students and teachers in developing countries in cooperation with their Ministries of Education and of Science & Technology, planetaria, science centres, industry and NGOs. It has donated portable telescopes to schools through an agreement with Meade Instruments and the National Space Society’s “Permission to Dream” initiative. Cooperation will be enhanced for further educational activities and organization of IYA related-events.
The Organization’s SC/BES Physics Programme will explore the close relations between physics and astronomy and draw from its experience with the International Year of Physics (IYP) 2005 to create a list of countries and institutions involved in astronomy.
For more information on Astronomy andWorld Heritage: http://whc.unesco.org/en/activities/19
For more information on the International Year of Astronomy 2009 please visit the website at http://www.astronomy2009.org/
UNESCO Space Education Programme: Yolanda Berenguer; Tel: +33-1-45684171; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
IAU Press Officer/Secretary of IAU IYA2009 Executive Committee Working Group: Lars Lindberg Christensen; Tel: +49-89-32-00-63-06; Cellular: +49-173-3872-621; E-mail: email@example.com