International Year of Astronomy: March news

Astronomy Year

Whether you are new to stargazing, a science teacher, or an amateur or professional astronomer, the International Year of Astronomy has something for you. And we need the support of all with a passion for astronomy to make IYA a success.

This is the second in what will be a regular series of bulletins about IYA over the year. We’ve listed some 42 events that are taking place in March and early April. There are many more events through the year listed at If you’re involved in an event that isn’t listed please let me know, and please register your event on the website.

Also in this bulletin an update on the IYA Cornerstone project 100 Hours of Astronomy. Astronomers amateur and professional will participate from 2 and 5 April. See where you can join in: observing the stars, the sun or a webcast of activity around the globe.

The Astronomical Society has also announced a small grants program, and there’s a school competition with a prize of an hour of observation time on the 8 metre Gemini South telescope in Chile.

I encourage you to keep logging events into our IYA 2009 calendar. The Year has got off to a great start with many well attended events in January and February including the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Discovery Program, Galileo’s birthday on 15 February, a special concert with James Morrison, and an IYA launch in Canberra on 28 January.

Please feel free to forward this bulletin to others with an interest in astronomy and to cut and paste from it for your own publications.

If you have any queries please contact me on or (02) 9372 4251.

If you have suggestions for future bulletins or want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this bulletin please send your request to we’re using this email address just for the bulletins.


Helen Sim

Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251

Mob: +61-419-635-905

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

In this bulletin:

1.          IYA – seed grants for outreach activities

2.          Order your own Galileoscope now

3.          Gemini Schools imaging contest

4.          100 hours of Astronomy 2-5 April

5.          Forthcoming events to end of March

1.           IYA – seed grants for outreach activities

If you are planning to take advantage of IYA to broaden the scope of your astronomical outreach activities you may be eligible for a small grant from the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA). The ASA is inviting applications from individuals and organisations that are planning outreach activities, particularly those that will engage audiences not usually reached by traditional astronomical outreach activities. A non-traditional approach to bringing science and astronomy to the general public could be what your project needs to get funding.

ASA will fund a small number of grants of up to $1500. To apply for support, send a proposal of not more than two pages outlining:

  • the nature of your activity
  • the target audience
  • other support you have (in-kind or financial)
  • when you are expecting to hold the event
  • the potential for media coverage
  • your contact details.

Submit your proposal, preferably by email, to the ASA Joint Secretary John O’Byrne, School of Physics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006.

John’s email is and you can phone him on (02) 9351 3184.

The closing date for proposals is Friday 27 March, although urgent requests may be considered earlier.

2.           Order your own Galileoscope now

See four moons of Jupiter, lunar craters, the phases of Venus and Saturn’s rings even better than Galileo did.

The Galileoscope is an affordable, easy-to-assemble 50mm, 25-50 power achromatic refractor telescope designed by leading astronomers and optical engineers. It is suitable for individuals, classrooms or for astronomy outreach activities. Education activities and teaching materials have been developed in association with the telescope.

You can now order the Galileoscope from Orders taken now will probably arrive late April.

3.           Gemini Schools imaging contest

Australian high schools have the chance to win an hour of observation time on the 8 metre Gemini South telescope in Chile, one on the world’s largest optical telescopes. Pick an object in the Southern sky and write a convincing explanation of why it would be interesting to photograph digitally.

The class with the best-ranked entry will have their object imaged by Gemini. The professionally processed picture will then be presented to the school by astronomers who will explain what the image reveals about the target. In addition, the winning image will appear on the cover of Australian Sky & Telescope magazine.

The top three classes will be eligible to participate in a Live from Gemini program, an introduction to the Gemini telescopes provided via a video link to experts in one of the Gemini control rooms.

Entries close on Friday 1 May.

More information: or Christopher Onken at or (02) 6125 8039.

4.           100 hours of Astronomy 2-5 April

It’s only 37 days to the largest, single event in the International Year of Astronomy: the 100 Hours of Astronomy is a worldwide event aiming to have as many people as possible look through a telescope at the sky.

In Australia, many amateur and professional astronomers will participate in events across the country, including:


  • CSIRO’s Parkes telescope, the Anglo-Australian Telescope and a telescope of the University of Tasmania are taking part in a live 24-hour webcast following day and night around the globe. The live video webcast will be available on the 100 Hours website from 3 – 4 April.

New South Wales

  • The University of New England and Northern Tablelands Astronomical Society will be hosting public viewings out of Kirby Observatory and in local parks, Armidale, NSW, Thursday 2 April to Sunday 5 April.
  • “The Jewel Box in the Southern Cross” and a view of Saturn without its rings at the Sydney Observatory on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 April.
  • The Sutherland Astronomical Society has astronomer Fred Watson as guest speaker on Thursday 2 April, and the 3rd International Sidewalk Astronomers Night in Cronulla on Friday 3 April.
  • “Eyes on the sky: modern astronomical telescopes”, a one-day course examining the tools of modern astronomy run by the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education on Saturday 4 April.
  • Mudgee, NSW, is holding Footpath Astronomy on Friday 3 April
  • View the first quarter moon and Saturn on the beach at Byron Bay on Friday 3 April.
  • An archaeological dig of Thomas Brisbane’s observatory in Parramatta Park, Sydney, will take place during Friday 3 – Sunday 5 April.


  • “400 years of discovery with Galileo’s telescope” at the Runaway Bay Library, Gold Coast, Qld, on Saturday 4 April. Also, the Springbrook Observatory at the Gold Coast is running a number of activities during the 100 Hours.
  • A public field night will be held at the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium, Brisbane, in conjunction with local astronomical societies on Saturday 4 April.
  • The Great Barrier Reef Observatory is holding a telescope viewing on Hamilton Island on Saturday 4 April.


  • Use a special solar telescope to look at the surface of the Sun, and Q&A session with astronomer Tanya Hill at the Melbourne Planetarium on Sunday 5 April.

Western Australia

  • “Saturn starkers” – Peter Birch will reveal Saturn without its rings at the Gingin Observatory, WA on Saturday 4 April. On Sunday 5 April at the Observatory is a BYO Telescope class.
  • In Western Australia, Sidewalk Astronomy stations will be set up along the coast from Fremantle to Mindarie on Thursday 2 April.

5.           Forthcoming events to end of March

Events coming up in the IYA include the following (see unless otherwise directed):


  • The “Globe at night” program runs from Monday 16 – Saturday 28 March. Participants around the world report on their night sky to foster awareness of light pollution.

Australian Capital Territory

  • “Harmonious Revolutions: Galileo and the music of the spheres” a live multimedia performance of images, words and music exploring the life and times of Galileo and his musician father, on Wednesday 4 March. More info here.
  • “Teddy bears’ picnic – a space adventure” at Black Mountain Reserve, Canberra on Sunday 29 March. More info here.

New South Wales

  • Campbelltown City Council is running a student photography competition with an IYA theme. Entries close on 8 March.
  • “Starry, starry night – a talk on cosmology and the big bang – a trip to the stars and beyond” public talk at Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park on Wednesday 25 February.
  • “How to collimate a telescope” with Dennis Zambelis, hosted by the Newcastle Astronomical Society on Friday 27 February.
  • “International Year Of Astronomy – a night under the stars” public observation nights at Brisbane Water National Park, NSW on Saturday February 28.
  • “Finding the size of the universe with SUSI” a talk at the Sydney Observatory on Monday 2 March.
  • Astro-photography display at the Newcastle Region Library from 6 March.
  • Astronomy webcast from Charles Sturt University on Friday 6 March.
  • Celebrate Yuri Gagarin’s 75th birthday with a public lecture and moon viewing at the Sydney Observatory on Monday 9 March. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
  • View the “Transit of Titan” as it passes in from of Saturn at the Sydney Observatory on Thursday 12 March.
  • “Young starwatchers” program at the Observatory at the University of Western Sydney on Friday 13 March.
  • “Modern astronomy: a voyage to the planets” course run by the University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education. Beginning Tuesday 17 March and running for 10 sessions. More info here.
  • “Astrophysics for physics teachers workshop” at the Australia Telescope National Facility, Marsfield, Sydney, on Friday 20 March.
  • Observation from the Sydney Observatory as Sydney turns off its lights for Earth Hour on Saturday 28 March.


  • A guided tour of the night sky using a 46cm reflector at Twinstar Guesthouse Observatory, Ballandean, Queensland on Wednesday 25 February; also on Thursday 26 March.
  • Nicholas Menicucci talks on “Entangling power of an expanding universe” at the School of Physics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, on Friday 13 March.


  • The 9th Annual Messier Star Party with the Astronomical Society of Victoria on Saturday 28 February. More info here.
  • “Discover the night sky” every Thursday evening in March at the Melbourne Planetarium.
  • “Shared sky” exhibition exploring the cultural experience of the night sky over our southern continent opens at the Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne on Friday 13 March.
  • “Heavens above” astronomy evening with the Mornington Peninsula Astronomical Society on Friday 6 March.
  • “8th Snake Valley astronomy camp” has four nights of observation and astrophotography only 20 minutes from Ballarat, from Friday 27 to Tuesday 31 March.

Western Australia

  • “Talks and night-sky viewing” at Edith Cowan University, WA, on Thursday 5 March.
  • “What do we know about the Universe?” public lecture by Matthew Colless at Perth Observatory on Friday 6 March. Details are here.
  • “Get the best from your telescope” with expert guidance at the Gingin Observatory, WA, on Sunday 8 March.
  • “The great space elevator” talk at Horizon Planetarium, Perth on Thursday 19 March.
  • “Celestial tasting – dinner, entertainment and viewing” under the stars at Lamonts – Swan Valley, WA, with Noongar community elder Noel Nannup, each night from Thursday 26 to Saturday 28 March.
  • Messier Marathon night of observation. Saturday 28 March is the best time during IYA to view the Messier catalogue of 90 objects visible from the Southern Hemisphere. This is an overnight event at the Golden Grove Observatory, Chittering Valley, WA. More info here.

For more information about these events visit

If your event isn’t included in this listing please register it at


Helen Sim

Single Point of Contact (SPOC) in Australia for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy

Tel: +61-2-9372-4251

Mob: +61-419-635-905