Tuesday, March 9, 2010
IYA: What a Year! (And it’s not really over)
Well, it was a heck of a year. In IYA2009, nearly two million Canadians of all ages were able to experience a “Galileo Moment” during the more than 3,600 events that took place across the country (see Figure 1). A major reason for the IYA success was the partnership between The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC), the Fédération des Astronomes Amateurs du Québec (FAAQ) and the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA). This partnership will continue in 2010 with the Beyond IYA initiative. Equally important were the collaborations that were established with planetariums and science centres, universities, government, parks, libraries and arts and cultural organizations.
Highlights from this past year include:
- Thousands of star parties in every part of the country, in big cities and small towns, in every kind of venue you can imagine
- The excellent materials produced by the RASC, including bilingual Astronomy Trading Cards and Star Finders and Mary Lou’s New Telescope, a book for children (see HERE)
- Four national parks designed as Dark Sky Preserves (Kouchibouguac National Park and Mount Carleton Provincial Park, New Brunswick; Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine park, Ontario; and Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan); see my May 23 blog
- Spectacular art and cultural events, including Tafelmusik’s The Galileo Project, the Galileo Live! planetarium show, Diane Nalini’s astronomically inspired “Kiss Me Like That” jazz album, the From the Earth to the Universe exhibition of astronomical images in Victoria, IYA stamps and a silver coin and the University of Toronto’s “Cool Cosmos” subway ad campaign to mention just a very few; see my blogs on March 24 June 5 and June 30
- Countless public talks given by amateur and professional astronomers; for instance, the CASCA’s Galileo Lecture Series and the FAAQ’s Série de Conférences Galilée; see my blogs on May 5 and August 21
- The Perimeter Institute’s Quantum to Cosmos Festival, the largest science-outreach event ever held in Canada, which attracted nearly 40,000 people (and at least a million more online), and Tremblant Beneath the Stars/Tremblant Sous les Étoiles, Quebec’s largest star party, attended by nearly 6,000 people
- Educational activities, such as astronomer visits to schools and teacher training programs
- The production and distribution of the Galileoscope, an inexpensive but high-quality telescope (which is still available—I urge you to buy one and, in fact, buy several to give to local schools and community groups)
- And, of course, there were two big international events: 100 Hours of Astronomy in April and Galilean Nights in October
Let’s give the last word on IYA2009 activities to the RASC Calgary Centre which had an exceptionally productive and successful year; see HERE and my blogs on March 24 and June 15. The Centre celebrated the end of 2009 and a Blue Moon in fine style at the Calgary Zoo on December 31. Frigid temperatures and cloud at the start of the night prevented outside views, so Centre members set up telescopes inside the ENMAX Conservatory and looked at indoor targets and at the Moon through the window, once the “blue” full Moon did appear. Several hundred people looked through the scopes and took home star charts and other handouts. During 2009, Calgary had just over 26,000 people participate in observing sessions and offsite events, and another 90,000 attended astronomy-themed shows and exhibits at the TELUS World of Science. For 2010, Calgary IYA organizers plan a similar, though somewhat scaled-back, schedule of events. You can see two pictures from their end-of-year event below.
The good news is that the IYA legacy lives on! The Beyond IYA initiative will see many of the groups across Canada continue their astronomy-outreach activities in 2010 and beyond. Thanks to a three-year National Sciences and Engineering Research Council PromoScience grant, Julie Bolduc-Duval has been hired part-time to develop partnerships to reach inner-city and remote rural youth and aboriginal groups. If you are interested in collaborating in this work, you can contact Julie at email@example.com.
On the global scene, there are two major events coming up. The first is the GLOBE at Night’s annual two-week campaign (March 3-16) to record the sky brightness around the world. In the 2009 campaign, more than 15,000 measurements, and organizers would love to do even better this year. The second is Global Astronomy Month, which runs over the month of April. GAM2010 is being organized by Astronomers Without Borders and will bring together tens of thousands of enthusiasts worldwide. There will be events of all kinds: star parties, remote observing, online video lectures, workshops, sidewalk astronomy and more.
I’ll end with the arts roundup. First, you can see the IYA closing videos HERE. You might also want to check out the excellent “Lives of Galileo” educational videos (in French only). Chromoscope is a very cool way to explore the universe at many wavelengths. Finally, Andrea Schweitzer of the US IYA committee has compiled a list of IYA2009 videos, which you can see HERE.
That’s it for today. I hope that you enjoyed IYA2009 and that you will keep the IYA legacy alive by taking part in Beyond IYA activities.
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