Thursday, February 5, 2009

2009: International Year of Astronomy, Bicentenary of Darwin’s Birth

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery.

Everyone should realize the impact of astronomy and other fundamental sciences on our daily lives, and understand how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society. IYA2009 activities are taking place locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. National Nodes in each country are running activities throughout 2009 which will establish collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers, science centers and science communicators. 136 countries are already involved and well over 140 are expected to participate eventually.

To coordinate this huge global program and to provide an important resource for the participating countries, the IAU established a central Secretariat and an IYA2009 website ( as the principal IYA2009 resource for public, professionals and media alike

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is endorsed by the International Council of Science (ICSU) and by the United Nations, (one of the rare times I will mention the UN in a convivial light).

2009 is also the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work, ‘On the Origin of Species’, and the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge which will be celebrating Darwin's life and achievements 5–10 July 2009.

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