Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Penny Sackett launched the 2009 International Year of Astronomy this morning at Questacon in Canberra with a live cross to the Anglo Australian Telescope at Siding Spring and to Chile.
400 years ago Galileo turned a telescope to the sky.
40 years ago Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
Galileo’s work was the beginning of modern instrumental astronomy and a milestone in the history of evidence-based science. To mark this historical turning point, 2009 has been endorsed as the International Year of Astronomy by both UNESCO and the UN General Assembly.
The night sky is the common cultural heritage of all humanity. With hundreds of events happening around Australia alone, IYA will be a year-long, community-based celebration of the science, history and cultural impact of astronomy for people throughout the world.
Highlights of the launch included:
• The search for dark energy – an Australian-driven study of 400,000 galaxies to precisely measure dark energy – introduced by Matthew Colless in a live cross to the Anglo Australian Telescope at Siding Spring.
• Win an hour on one of the world’s leading telescopes: the 8m Gemini telescope in Chile. This competition for Australian high school students was launched with a live cross to Chile.
• Remarkable high resolution footage of Earthrise as seen from the Moon.
IYA is coordinated globally by the International Astronomical Union, which represents the world’s professional astronomers. In Australia, the National Committee for Astronomy, a committee of the Academy of Science, is responsible for coordinating IYA activities.
International website: www.astronomy2009.org
Australian website: www.astronomy2009.org.au
The Gemini competition: ausgo.aao.gov.au/IYAcontest