Astronomy bulletin: 8 November 2008

The 2009 International Year of Astronomy in Australia

I’m writing to update you on planning for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in Australia, and to seek your input.

We already know of over 120 events being planned for next year. And if we haven’t heard about yours yet, we’d like to!

As IYA draws closer, I’ll be writing every couple of weeks to describe how events are unfolding.

We are particularly keen to hear of any plans you may have for inviting astronomers, space scientists, astronauts and writers for next year – whether their trips are funded or not at present.

Helen Sim

(Sent by Niall Byrne, Science in Public, on Helen’s behalf)

In this bulletin

International IYA events

One of the major events of the international IYA calendar is the “100 hours of Astronomy” running over 2-5 April. Around the world, public star-gazing sessions will give thousands or even millions of people a chance to look at the sky through a telescope – many of them for the first time. Professional observatories will take part in a 24-hour global webcast. Planetaria, museums and other outreach centres will throw open their doors for special programs.

If you’re interested in running a star-gazing session for the public, for your school, or for your community group (Scout troop, Rotary group), 2-5 April would be an excellent time to do it. You can subscribe to the international “100 Hours” mailing list at . Please also let us know –

Professional observatories in Australia interested in taking part in the 24-hour webcast should also indicate their interest by emailing

Australia will also be taking part in other international IYA events including:

  • § She is an astronomer
  • § Dark Skies (and its radio equivalent, Quiet Skies)
  • § Cosmic Diary
  • § Astronomy and world heritage
  • § Galileo teacher training program
  • § From Earth to the Universe.

Details of these can be found at, under “Global Projects”.

IYA in Australia – highlights

November, December 2008

Events “previewing” IYA will take place in Canberra and Sydney in the next few months. Details of the Canberra event are under wraps for a few more weeks, but we’ll let you know about that when we can! The Sydney preview will take place at Sydney Observatory on 9 December and will feature Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the discoverer of pulsars.


IYA will kick off on the stroke of midnight, 31 December 2008. An event based around a countdown to midnight using a pulsar will be held in Sydney.


Galileo’s birthday, on 15 February, will be an occasion for celebration around the country.


The major IYA event for April in Australia, as elsewhere, will be the 100 Hours of Astronomy, described above.


The Australian Science Festival in Canberra will take astronomy and space as its theme in 2009.


July is Moon Madness Month, with 21 July (in Australia) being the 40th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing. In Australia, both the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station and CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope were involved in receiving the TV pictures of this event and conveying them to the world. Celebrations will be held in both Parkes and the ACT.


For National Science Week (15-23 August) all schools across Australia will receive an astronomy activities resource book from the Australian Science Teachers Association on the theme of “Astronomy: Science without limits”.

The national science film festival, Scinema, is taking astronomy and space as its theme for 2009.

December / January 2010

A closing ceremony for IYA will be a final act of celebration and cement the legacy of the Year.

Getting involved

Register your event

If your event is confirmed and ready to announce, please register it at . That’s worth doing, even if the timing or other details are yet to be finally confirmed. You will need to register yourself to enter events on the calendar (go to the bottom of the page to do this) and then add your event.

If you have a plan, or even an idea, but you’re not ready to announce it, you can let us know in confidence, by email, to .


Most IYA events will have to be self-funded. However, we are raising funds to support the Year overall, major events, and national promotion. If you have any leads or suggestions here, we’d be happy to hear them.


Any event legitimately related to astronomy can carry the IYA logo (which has been trademarked in Australia). We simply ask that you send a request to outlining the event that you’d like to use it for.


IYA branded merchandise, such as clothing, mugs and bags, is available through . However, there is no exclusive relationship with cafepress. If you wish to create merchandise (e.g. T-shirts), please just drop us a line at . We will be happy to give you the logo to use on good-quality products.

Regional planning

Some regions have formed local IYA organising groups that you might find it useful to contact. We’ll pass on other contacts as they are confirmed.

  • § Western Australia
    Contacts: Pete Wheeler (Scitech), , and Carol Redford (Gingin Observatory),
  • § Southeast Queensland
    Contact: Mark Rigby (Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium),
  • § Canberra
    Contact: Mary-anne Waldren (Executive Director, Australian Science Festival) – for events during the Australian Science Festival, 27-31 May 2009:
  • § Northwest NSW
    Contact: Donna Burton (Siding Spring Observatory),
  • § Central West NSW
    Contact: John Sarkissian (Parkes Observatory),


Special interest groups

Some special interest activities are being coordinated on a national basis. Contacts for these are given below.

  • § Amateurs
    Brett McMillan (co-convener, National Australian Convention of Amateur Astronomers 2008),
  • § Education: school activities and teacher training
    Rob Hollow (Education Coordinator, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility),
  • § Indigenous astronomy
    Ray Norris (CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility), , and Steven Tingay (Curtin University),
  • § Community service groups
    David Ellyard (Rotary),

Sharing speakers

A small number of speakers will be brought to Australia specifically for IYA activities. Others will be coming to Australia for other purposes. We’d like to get the best out of both groups, and that means matching speakers and speaking opportunities. So, we’d like to know if:

  • § you have a specific opportunity for which you’d like an astronomy speaker (e.g. an address to a conference or meeting); or
  • § you know of an astronomically relevant speaker already scheduled to come to Australia in 2009.

Again, drop us a line at

Kind regards,

Helen Sim

Public Relations and Media Liaison
CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (email: &
Anglo-Australian Observatory (email:
Ph (02) 9372 4251
Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy