Wednesday, 21 January 2009

It's the International Year of Astronomy!

The United Nations has declared 2009 as the International year of Astronomy . The reason this year was chosen is that it is 400 years since Galileo's celestial discoveries in 1609 and Johannes Kepler published the fundamental laws of planetary motion.

The initiative is run, in the UK, by Royal Observatory,Edinburgh 's Professor Ian Robson and includes providing 1000 free good quality telescopes to secondary schools jointly funded by the Science & Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) and the The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and is organised by the SPA The Society for Popular Astronomy(SPA). There will be a touring version of the From Earth to the Universe (FETTU) exhibition to cities around the UK, funded by the RAS. There will be two 'MoonWatch' weeks in the first, on the 3rd/4th April, you can also see Saturn and in the second, on the 28th/29th October, you can also see Jupiter - where all these events of 100 hours of astronomy will be undertaken by amateur astronomers. (For information in other countries check the first link).

Skepticality's latest podcast is on this and they talk with "astronomer, educator, and podcaster Dr. Pamela Gay about the many exciting global events people can enjoy during the International Year of Astronomy. She also shares her thoughts about the changing face of NASA, and about some thrilling recent astronomical discoveries." ( Also check out this Wired article).

This looks like a great opportunity to introduce to our kids the wonders of science and the fascinating immensity of the awesome (and more than 6000 years old) universe we inhabit.