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Astronomy, the oldest science in history, has played an important role in most, if not all, cultures over the ages. Thanks to advanced telescopes and space probes, astronomy continues to be a trailblazer, enhancing our knowledge by delivering breathtaking discoveries almost on a weekly basis.
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.
Here's a video of Brian Malow, science comedian,
discussing Galileo & astronomy.
Galileo first used his telescope 400 years ago. Science Comedian Brian Malow says 2009 may be the most exciting year in astronomy since 1609.
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. Watch the official trailer for the IYA2009.
To keep up to date on astronomy information and events happening in the United States during IYA2009, please visit www.astronomy2009.us.
Credit: International Year of Astronomy 2009, IAU and UNESCO
Watch JFK's speech that
started it all!
We Chose the Moon
July 16, 1969 9:32 AM ET.
Control a Telescope!
Visit MicroObservatory online telescope network where you can explore the universe using working telescopes that YOU control via the Internet free of charge, and have access to your image within 48 hours!
Meet JARITA HOLBROOK and DOUGLAS ISBELL, our July bloggers, and comment upon their thoughts on CELEBRATING ASTRONOMY!!
Jarita C. Holbrookis a professor at the University of Arizona in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Steward Observatory. She has a Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is chair of the Cultural Astronomy and Storytelling Committee for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in the United States of America. She studies the many ways in which astronomy and culture intersect with a special focus on Africa. She brings astronomy down to earth by encouraging children to do their own sky gazing and their own artistic representations of the sky.
Douglas Isbellis the U.S. national single-point-of-contact for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. He is co-chair of the American Astronomical Society committee that has planned the major U.S. programs for IYA2009, and he represents the interests of the United States as a member of the IYA2009 executive working group of the International Astronomical Union. Doug has more than 20 years of experience as a manager of public outreach programs and as a press officer, having worked at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, and at NASA Headquarters and NASA Goddard. Previously, Doug was a reporter for Space News and Washington Technology newspapers, where he first applied his university degrees in journalism and astronautical engineering.
- Cultural Astronomy & Storytelling: Your Turn by Jarita Holbrook
- Top Ten Reasons That Astronomy Is Cool! by: Douglas Isbell
- Astronomy & World Heritage by: Jarita Holbrook
- Hubble's Diverse Universe and Dr. George Carruthers by: Jarita Holbrook
- The Global Impact of IYA2009: 100 Hours in April by: Douglas Isbell
- Cultural Astronomy Field Work and Administration by: Jarita Holbrook
- The International Year of Astronomy 2009 - The Story So Far by: Douglas Isbell
- Solstice 2009: An Invitation to Dance with Witches by: Jarita C. Holbrook
Cultural Astronomy & Storytelling: Your Turn by Jarita Holbrook
Summer is not just the time for beautiful hot weather and sleeping in, but for most scholars it is the time for doing research. With no classes to teach, it is a time to make great advances on our research, only to slow down again when classes start in the Fall. My research this summer has focused on adding a chapter to my book "Following the Stars", preparing for the 2010 Cultural Astronomy Fields School in the United Kingdom, conducting and mentoring students working on the Sky in Our Lives survey research project, and preparing three research grants focused on astronomers. Though most cultural astronomy research involves creativity, practical and theoretical skills, and advanced degrees, some projects involve simply being curious. Before the summer ends, here are a couple of cultural astronomy projects that anyone can do alone or with friends.
I. Cultural Astronomy Walking Maps: A Window into Your Local Universe
To create a walking map is a multistep process:
1) Walk through your location searching for ANYTHING that is related to the sky: murals, street names, statues, observatories, sun dials, clocks with the Sun and Moon, for example.
2) Take high quality pictures of each site of interest.
3) Gather as much background information and history for each as possible.
4) Put all the sites of interest onto a local map, and decide the best way to lead a tour group through the sites keeping in mind: walking up and down hills, good places to take a break for lunch or coffee (Starbucks!), that the walk should take no more than two hours before lunch and two hours after lunch.
5) Make a foldable brochure with a central map and each site marked clearly.
6) Send it to the Cultural Astronomy Walking Map project as a PDF file.
This project focuses on rediscovering local communities through cultural astronomy eyes. It is fun to search for the "astronomy" found in everyday environments. It is challenging to put together a map that would be interesting for tourists. Creating a walking map can be used as a community building activity. Students Sunny Albright and Tara Pallano created the UAstronomy Map for the University of Astronomy Campus (see pictures for a complete example).
II. Skies Alive! Short Film and Animation Competition
Contact: Elizabeth Wallace,
This competition is filmmaker's chance to create a 15-minute film presenting their perceptions about the sky. Submission due November 15th, 2009.
It is an opportunity to:
1)create original sky myths or present existing sky myths
2)focus on people and their relationship to astronomy and the night sky
3)create beautiful sky films
Filmmakers can be any age and will be judged accordingly. There will be a submission fee. The five best shorts will be combined into an IYA2009USA DVD. This is a great opportunity to record local sky stories from elders or even to film kids playing at being celestial bodies! We are looking for the full range of sky experience from serious to fun. A second goal is diversity: can we get films from all the ethnic groups present in the United States and that reflect our great diversity?
III. Organize a Star Party and Storytelling Event!
Get in touch with your local amateur astronomy club and ask to bring telescopes to a star party for your community. Contact your local storytelling organization to request storytellers that can tell star stories. Combine the two into a wonderful evening event!
Most amateur astronomy clubs are listed on the Internet with their contact information. Local storytellers can be found through the Internet. Both groups are usually available for Thursday - Sunday evening events if given enough notice.
IV. IYA2009 Song Dedication
I have been trying to get American Top 40 to dedicate a song to the IYA2009 USA. About once a month I send a long email listing which songs in the top 40 have celestial themes and lyrics and request "Starlight" by Muse be dedicated to IYA2009.
Our hopes and expectations
Black holes and revelations
Last month I listed Shine Down's "Second Chance" which has the lyrics:
I just saw Halley's comet, she waved
Said 'why are you always running in place?'
Even the man in the moon disappeared,
Somewhere in this stratosphere.
I haven't heard our dedication, yet, but I have four more months. Send your dedications to IYA2009USA to email@example.com.
The first astronomy study abroad in Africa! This study abroad is open to all majors. It is for undergraduate but graduate students and teachers are also welcome. It takes place in winter: December 28 - January 9th, 2009. It is a great way to end the International Year of Astronomy. University of Arizona is offering nine units of academic credits in astronomy and anthropology. I will be teaching the Cultural Astronomy of Africa class. See the website for more information.
There are four months left of the International Year of Astronomy! Get Involved!
Click here to see and print out the UAstronomy brochure.
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