iau0809 — Press Release

21 November 2008, Paris
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony: Save the Date

With just six weeks to go before 2009, the International Year of Astronomy project is getting ready for its grand Opening Ceremony. This promises to be a spectacular event, held at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris, 15 and 16 January 2009. Hundreds of attendees are expected, including members of royal families, government ministers, Nobel Prize winners and other eminent scientists. The press is invited to attend and to “save the date” in the calendar.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has been launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) under the theme "The Universe, yours to discover". IYA2009 marks the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei's first astronomical observation through a telescope in 1609, an event that changed astronomy forever. IYA2009 will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to society and culture, with strong emphasis on education, public participation, and the involvement of young people, and with events at national, regional, and global levels. Many thousands of individuals in over 130 countries around the world are already involved, forming the world's largest ever astronomy network. IYA2009 will portray astronomy as a peaceful global scientific endeavour that unites astronomers in an international, multicultural family of scientists, working together to find answers to some of the most fundamental questions that humankind has ever asked.

A strong media presence is anticipated at the Opening Ceremony, drawn by the high profile events and speakers. In addition, there will be exhibits by well-known science institutions who support IYA2009.

A press conference will be held on the 15 January 2009, 12:30 p.m., at the UNESCO Headquarters. This press conference will address some of the most vibrant subjects of modern astronomy research and the International Year of Astronomy 2009 highlights.

The Opening Ceremony is set to launch IYA2009 on its journey. Its mission: to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place within the Universe.




Media accreditation

Isabelle Cassandre Le Fournis


E-mail: i.le-fournis@unesco.org


For more information:

IAU IYA2009 Coordinator

Pedro Russo


Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2

D-85748 Garching bei München


Tel: +49 89 320 06 195

Fax: +49 89 320 23 62

E-mail: prusso@eso.org


Further contacts

Yolanda Berenguer

UNESCO Focal Point for the International Year of Astronomy 2009


Tel: +33-1-45684171

E-mail: y.berenguer@unesco.org

Francoise Combes

Chair of the Local Organising Committee

Observatoire de Paris, France

Tel : 33-1-40-51-20-77

Fax: 33-1-40-51-20-02 

E-mail : francoise.combes@obspm.fr


Dr. Karel A. van der Hucht

General Secretary, International Astronomical Union

IAU Secretariat, Paris, France

Tel: +33-1-43-25-83-58

E-mail: K.A.van.der.Hucht@sron.nl


IAU Press Officer

Lars Lindberg Christensen

ESO ePOD, Garching, Germany

Tel: +49 89 3200 6761

Cellular: +49-173-3872-621

E-mail: lars@eso.org