Humanity has always been fascinated by the vision of the night sky and as legend yielded to science, the mysteries of the heavens have been gradually solved by the world’s astronomers. The relentless work of Canadian and international scientists, through which the compelling realities of our universe continue to be unveiled, is being celebrated in 2009 through the official recognition of the International Year of Astronomy.
The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a year-long celebration of astronomy, taking place in 2009 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the first recorded astronomical observations with a telescope by Galileo Galilei and the publication of Johannes Kepler's Astronomia nova in the 17th century.The Year was declared by the 62nd General Assembly of the United Nations. A global scheme, laid out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), has also been endorsed by UNESCO—the UN body responsible for Educational, Scientific and Cultural matters. The opening ceremony was held in Paris on January 15–16, 2009. IYA2009 is scheduled to include numerous global projects and public events. The IAU also released a book and movie on the history of the telescope for this event.
Significance of 1609 In 1609, Galileo Galilei first turned one of his telescopes to the night sky and made astounding discoveries that changed humankind's understanding of our position in the Universe, including mountains and craters on the Moon, a plethora of stars invisible to the naked eye, and moons around Jupiter. In the same year, Johannes Kepler published his work Astronomia nova—in which he described the fundamental laws of planetary motions.
Vision of IYA2009 The vision of IYA2009 is to help people rediscover their place in the Universe through the sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. IYA2009 activities take place locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. National Nodes have been formed in each country to prepare activities for 2009. These nodes established collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers, science centres and science communicators to prepare activities for 2009. More than 140 countries are already involved. To help coordinate this huge global programme and to provide an important resource for the participating countries, the IAU has established a central Secretariat and an IYA2009 website as the principal IYA2009 resource for public, professionals and media alike.
Goals of IYA2009
The major goals of IYA2009 are to:
1. Increase scientific awareness;
2. Promote widespread access to new knowledge and observing experiences;
3. Empower astronomical communities in developing countries;
4. Support and improve formal and informal science education;
5. Provide a modern image of science and scientists;
6. Facilitate new networks and strengthen existing ones;
7. Improve the gender-balanced representation of scientists at all levels and promote greater involvement by underrepresented minorities in scientific and engineering careers;
8. 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.
As part of the scheme, IYA2009 helps less well-established organizations from the developing world to become involved with larger organizations and deliver their contributions, linked via a huge global network. This initiative also aims at reaching economically disadvantaged young children across the globe and enhance their understanding of the world.