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2009 to be International Year of Astronomy

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has announced that 2009 will be the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). According to the IAU, the year will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture. The IAU hopes IYA2009 will stimulate...

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The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has announced that 2009 will be the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). According to the IAU, the year will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture. The IAU hopes IYA2009 will stimulate worldwide interest not only in astronomy, but in science in general.

2009 marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first observations of the sky through a telescope. What he saw - numerous stars invisible to the naked eye, the moons of Jupiter and mountains and craters on our moon - revolutionised the way people saw the Earth's place in the universe.

The aim of the IYA2009 is to bring astronomy closer to everyone, particularly young people, by giving them the opportunity to meet astronomers and look through a telescope so that they can see for themselves what Galileo saw four centuries ago - the moons of Jupiter. Other ideas include an astronomy blog where scientists will be able to explain their latest findings on a day to day basis.

The IAU also plans to ensure that people living in developing countries will be able to participate in IYA2009. Through a special programme called Universal Awareness (UNAWE), the IAU hopes to expose young children to the inspirational aspects of astronomy and so help them to better understand the world.