The International Year of Astronomy 2009
On January 1st 2009 at 0:00 AM, the corks will pop for New Year celebrations and if there is a clear sky, innumerable stars will celebrate with us. Fittingly, with the clock chimes at midnight the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) will begin. Astronomers from everywhere in the world have set themselves a high goal for 2009: they want to make it possible for everybody, young and old, to experience the wonders of outer space. 400 years ago Galileo Galilei was the first to point an astronomic telescope to the heavens and discover a new world, and millions of people shall be able to relive that epiphany. At the same time we celebrate the 1609 publication of Johannes Kepler's "Astronomia nova", one of the most groundbreaking books about our solar system, in which he was the first to correctly describe the planetary orbits.
The calculations and observations of Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei and other pioneers revolutionized the world view of the 17th century and created the foundations for modern astronomy and science. How has our understanding of the universe evolved since then? Which mysterious connections are the astrophysicists researching today and in the future?
National opening ceremony on January 20th in Berlin
On January 20th, the IYA 2009 in Germany will be festively inaugurated by Dr. Anette Schavan, federal minister for education and research. On February 12th, the starting signal for the IYA 2009 activities in Baden-Württemberg and the Metropole region Rhein-Neckar will be sounded by an introductory event at the planetarium in Mannheim.
A broad spectrum of activities awaits the visitors of the various events of the IYA 2009, like exhibitions, lectures, guided sky observations and many further highlights; they are jointly offered by partners from science, educational and cultural backgrounds. Four topics are the focus of the program: "The Look at the Sky", "Astronomy and Culture", "World Views of Astronomy" and "Astronomy and School", which is intended for students as well as teachers. While the former will experiment with binoculars, do-it-yourself comets and model rockets, the latter are invited to special lectures about topics like the use of robotic telescopes for school lessons.
During the worldwide event "100 hours of Astronomy" from April 2nd to 5th 2009, the observation of outer space with our own eyes will be the focus. Accompanied by numerous media and internet activities, amateur astronomers round the globe will come to the people with their telescopes. The history of astronomy and its discoveries will become alive in the gigantic exhibition "Sternstunden - Wonders of the Solar System" in the Gasometer Oberhausen. From May 7th to 15th, the premiere of the joint show "Eyes in Space - Foray into the invisible Universe", developed under the aegis of the European Space Agency, will take place in two dozen German planetariums.
SOFIA is involved
The German SOFIA Institute (DSI) will present the flying observatory SOFIA and its special mission to the people by numerous events. In March, for example, a permanent exhibition in the planetarium in Stuttgart will be unveiled, while a talent school of Stuttgart University and the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft will take place in the same month. For seven weeks in May and June, the SOFIA project will present itself in Weil der Stadt, the birthplace of Johannes Kepler, with an exhibition and experiments regarding infrared astronomy. At the Science Day of Stuttgart University, the DSI will also introduce the project to interested visitors. At the yearly conference of the Astronomische Gesellschaft, which will take place in Potsdam in 2009, SOFIA will be present as well as at the yearly physics exhibition in Cologne. All DSI activities will be conducted in cooperation with science, research and industry partners.
The DSI will also be engaged in the educational area. Various teacher and student workshops about the topics aircraft and infrared astronomy are offered. The SOFIA project will also be integrated into the School Labs of the German Aerospace Center (DLR).
In the Europa-Park in Rust, the students of the DSI - SOFIA AG will represent the flying observatory independently with self-developed experiments on the "Science Day" in October.
The smallest children will be entertained at events of the Children's University in Stuttgart and Weil der Stadt and on the children's party of Stuttgart airport.
First science flights with SOFIA
The year 2009 will be a special year for SOFIA for one other reason as well: The German-built Telescope will catch a glimpse at the night sky and the infrared universe for the first time in-flight. American and German astronomers will conduct first scientific measurements and are excited to see which surprises these new observational data hold in store for them.
Contact person at the DSI:
Dr. Cecilia Scorza
Deutsches SOFIA Institut
+49 (0) 711 - 685 - 65860
German coordinator of the IYA:
Dr. Michael Geffert,
Arglander-Institut für Astronomie
+49 (0) 228 - 73 3648
Details about the DSI events
International pages with the complete worldwide program and links to other nations:
On 12/22/2007, the United Nations General Assembly have officially declared the year 2009 to be the "International Year of Astronomy" (IYA 2009). The event was initiated by the "International Astronomical Union" (IAU) and UNESCO, in remembrance of the 400th anniversary of the first sky observation through an astronomical telescope. Astronomy as an all-encompassing science is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of mankind. Astrophysical insights keep revolutionizing our world view and understanding of the universe to this day.
The Universe. You live in it - discover it!