ESO and the International Year of Astronomy 2009

"The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is an important step in furthering the interest of the public in what is arguably the oldest of all sciences: astronomy"
ESO Director General, Tim de Zeeuw on the occasion of United Nations proclamation of 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy

Since plans for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) began in 2003, ESO has played a major role in the project. ESO is hosting the IYA 2009 Secretariat for the International Astronomical Union, which coordinates the Year globally. ESO is one of the Organisational Associates of IYA2009, and was also closely involved in the resolution submitted to the United Nations (UN) by Italy, which led to the UN's 62nd General Assembly proclaiming 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. In addition to a wide array of activities planned both at the local and international level, ESO is leading three of the eleven global Cornerstone Projects.

The IYA2009 Secretariat

ESO hosts the Secretariat for IYA2009 at its headquarters in Garching, near Munich, Germany. The Secretariat is the central hub of the International Astronomical Union's implementation of the IYA2009, and was established to coordinate activities during the planning, execution and evaluation of the Year. The Secretariat liaises continuously with the National Nodes, Task Groups, Partners and Organisational Associates, the media and the general public to ensure the progress of IYA2009 at all levels.
Find out more about the IYA2009 Secretariat at

IYA2009 Coordinator Pedro Russo (
IYA2009 Coordination Assistant Mariana Barrosa (

IYA2009 Global Cornerstone Projects at ESO

ESO is involved in many of the IYA2009 Global Cornerstone Projects, and plays a leading role in four of them:

  • Galilean Nights:
    Logo Galilean Nights
    Galilean Nights encourages people all around the world to participate in stargazing events from 22-24 October 2009, and experience for themselves the same sense of awe and wonder that Galileo must have felt. ESO is powering the official Galilean Nights Cornerstone project.

    Chair: Catherine Moloney,
  • 100 Hours of Astronomy:

    As part of 100 Hours of Astronomy, ESO is coordinating a 24-hour webcast from research observatories. Follow night and day around the globe, visiting large research observatories. Find out what astronomers are doing right now. Who is observing? What are they researching? What do they hope to discover? How do they stay awake at night?

    ESO is involved in several outreach events in Garching, Munich, Santiago, Antofagasta and San Pedro de Atacama:
    • Activities in Garching and Munich (local time):
    • Activities in Chile:
      • Thursday, 2 April
        • 10:00 &ndash21:00: Exhibitions, hands-on activities, sky observations, and public talks (including the talk: "Observatorio Europeo Austral: telescopios y ciencia" by Massimo Tarenghi), Scuola Italiana de Santiago (nueva sede de Av. Las Flores 12.707, Las Condes), Santiago.
        • 12:45 – 14:30: Science Centres Webcast, Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM, ubicado en calle Punta Arenas 6711, La Granja), Santiago.
      • Friday, 3 April
        • Starting 11:00, for 24 hours: "Around the World in 80 Telescopes" video transmission, Auditorium, Scuola Italiana de Santiago (nueva sede de Av. Las Flores 12.707, Las Condes), Santiago.
      • Saturday, 4 April
        • All day (until end of April): Exhibition Opening "The World at Night", Mall Plaza, Antofagasta
        • All day: Planetarium shows and hands on activities, Plaza, San Pedro de Atacama
        • Night: Sky observations, next to Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta 
        • 19:00 – 21: Sky observations, Scuola Italiana de Santiago (nueva sede de Av. Las Flores 12.707, Las Condes), Santiago.
    Some useful links:

    Co-chairs: Douglas Pierce-Price ( and Mike Simmons (
  • Cosmic Diary:

    Aiming to put a human face on astronomy, professional scientists will blog in text and images about their lives, families, friends, hobbies and interests, as well as their work, latest research findings, and the challenges that face them. Currently involved are well in excess of 50 female and male astronomers from around the globe, representing over 30 different countries. Many will even blog in their own languages.

    Chair: Mariana Barrosa (
  • Portal to the Universe:

    The Portal to the Universe (PTTU) seeks to provide a global, one-stop portal for online astronomy content, serving as an index, aggregator and a social networking site for astronomy content providers, laypeople, press, educators, decision-makers and scientists.
    ESO together with ESA/Hubble provides the necessary infrastructure for the operation and coordination of PTTU.

    Chair: Lars Lindberg Christensen (

ESO IYA2009 projects and activities

Below is a partial list of the projects and activities in which ESO is participating. More items and further information will be added throughout 2009.
The ESO projects and activities are coordinated by the ESO Single Point of Contact:
Douglas Pierce-Price (

International projects

  • ESO's GigaGalaxy Zoom
    In the framework of IYA2009, ESO has launched a new project aimed at connecting the sky as seen by the unaided eye with that seen by hobby and professional astronomers. The project, called GIGAGALAXY ZOOM, reveals three amazing, ultra-high-resolution images of the night sky that online stargazers can zoom in on and explore in an incredible level of detail.
    The project can be viewed here:
  • "In search of our Cosmic Origins" – Planetarium Show
    A new planetarium show about ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, a revolutionary radiotelescope currently under construction in the Chilean Atacama desert. The show is being produced by ESO and the Association of French Language Planetariums (Association des Planétariums de Langue Française, APLF), in collaboration with the Planetarium of Augsburg in Germany.
    Read more about it on this link.
    Contact: Henri Boffin (
  • ESO astronomers in Cosmic Diary
    ESO was one of the first institutions to join the IYA2009 Cornerstone Cosmic Diary and has already 16 of its researchers actively participating in the ESO blog at Cosmic Diary.
    The project can be viewed here:
    ESO @ Cosmic Diary contact: Henri Boffin (
  • Eyes on the Skies
    The movie and book Eyes on the Skies was produced in collaboration with IAU, ESO, ESA to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the telescope and the International Year of Astronomy.
    The project can be viewed here:
    Contact: Lars Lindberg Christensen (

Activities in Chile

ESO operates world-class observatories at three sites in Chile, and has a scientific centre in the capital, Santiago. The public outreach department in Chile will have a wide range of activities for IYA2009, including:

  • Distribution of a special planisphere to invite students and the general public to discover the southern sky throughout the year.
  • Series of "Science Cafés" in Santiago and local communities close to the observatories in Northern Chile.
  • Promotion of a large national network of students & schools revisiting classical science experiments, such as the determination of the size of the Earth.
  • Opening of permanent astronomical exhibition at the new Huanchaca Museum of the Desert, in Antofagasta, near Paranal.
  • Open House at Paranal, La Silla and APEX / ALMA.
  • Partner in the Galileomobile project (IYA2009 Special Project).
  • Support the first Regional Congress "Astronomy at schools" in the II Region of Chile
    Exhibitions: TWAN (The World at Night, since April), "ESO Heritage" (from September-October) and GigaGalaxy
    Contact: Gonzalo Argandona (

Activities in Garching and Munich, Germany

ESO's headquarters are in Garching, near Munich, Germany. Check back here in the near future to discover some of the ways that ESO will celebrate IYA2009 in the local area.

  • 2009 ESO Open Doors
    ESO is participating in the Open Doors event on 24 October 2009. Visit the ESO headquarters in Munich, Germany, and experience a tour around this research facility at the forefront of science.
    The website is here:
  • Artist-in-Residence
    Taking an unconventional look at astronomy, artist Tim Otto Roth spent one week at ESO in September, researching bridges between astronomy and art, developing an art / science project, and reflecting on the concept of meta-communication.
    Contact: Pedro Russo (
  • Open House on the Garching research centre campus 24. October 2009. Save the date.

ESO at exhibitions

ESO will be featured at several carefully selected exhibitions during IYA2009.
See the list at:
Contact: Ed Janssen (