IAU Astronomy Outreach Newsletter

2015 #16 (November 2015 #1)

In this newsletter:

  1. From the Editors
  2. IAU National Outreach Contact Corner: News from Portugal
  3. HighLIGHT of the Month: Skylight continues to amaze
  4. CosmicLight around the world
  5. The International School for Young Astronomers
  6. Open Science Centre
  7. NASA's 2015 Cassini Scientist for a Day essay competition
  8. ALMA kids
  9. The Martian
  10. Upcoming meetings & global events around the world
  11. Contributions to this newsletter


0) From the Editor

The NameExoWorlds competition is over, and we wanted to reassure those of you who have contacted us about when the results will be available, that there isn’t long to wait — we expect to make the announcement in mid-November and we will inform you through social media as soon as we have a firm date.

In this issue, we have more news from our National Outreach Contact activities, this time from Joao Retre reporting from Portugal. Don’t miss the news about the Cassini Scientist for a Day essay competition and learn about Leiden University’s Open Science Centre. And for those who love the recent movie and the original book, The Martian, there are some notes on a few of the great articles about the science behind the story on the web.

We hope you enjoy exploring the items in this newsletter. This is a user-generated newsletter, and we would like to thank our contributors and everyone who makes it happen. Keep sharing your favourite activities with our team!

Clear Skies!
Lina Canas & Sze-leung Cheung
IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach


1) IAU National Outreach Contact Corner: News from Portugal

On 31 October, the International Year of Light 2015 was the spotlight of a public session in Lisbon, Portugal. Pedro Russo, from the University of Leiden, talked about Cosmic Light — IYL 2015 at the monthly Nights at the Observatory event, which is organised by the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, and takes place at the Astronomical Observatory of Lisbon. The public lecture was followed by a guided tour of the sky where everyone was able to look at the wonders of the sky through telescopes.

(reported by Joao Retre, from the Portuguese NOC group)


2) HighLIGHT of the Month: Skylight continues to amaze

During 2015, schools, universities, and art institutions in 30 countries collaborated to create and perform a science opera inspired by Cosmic Light. On 3 October, the project culminated in a beautiful display that proved that creative science learning can truly be inspirational. The impact that each project produced within its local community is remarkable: from the Brazilian students who were honoured by the city’s Mayor,through local TV broadcasts in the Netherlands, to a live audience of more than a hundred people in Denmark, each making a long-lasting and true impression on their communities.

Learn more about the reports on Skylight — the Global Science Opera in social media: http://on.fb.me/1k7ewES


3) CosmicLight around the world

From 3 to 8 November, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosted Astronomy Week. This annual event discussed fundamental topics in astronomy, presenting the most recent discoveries in the field and exploring new ways to bring science closer to the public. The week had an emphasis on light, to commemorate IYL 2015.

The Civic Museum of the Rovereto Foundation, in Rovereto (TN), Italy, organises an annual series of conferences called Astronomy Thursdays. This year the chosen theme is light,and the series is especially dedicated to celebrating the International Year of Light 2015. These conferences run from 5 to 26 November.

On 7 November, St Andrews, United Kingdom, hosted Shine, celebrating the International Year of Light with science, music and art. Everyone was invited to the Byre Theatre to explore light and sound waves through demos, an art installation inspired by stellar spectra, and to listen to light-inspired music.

On 7 November, San Juan, Puerto Rico, hosted the Concert of Light. The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the visual representations by Dr José Francisco Salgado combined to offer an innovative pairing of science and art. The concert Included a performance of The Planets by Gustav Holst and pieces by Strauss and the composer John Estacio.

Also on 7 November, Lausanne, Switzerland hosted Lumière sur la Lumière (Shedding light on light). The event consisted of a series of hands-on workshops relating to physics and chemistry. Children and teenagers aged from 7 to 13 years old learnt how to make a solar lamp, recompose white light from its constituent colours, or how to produce light from chemical reactions. A conference on the Northern Lights was also held for the participants and their parents.

From 5 to 8 November, in Zagora, Morocco, the Sahara Sky Observatory hosted a workshop on basic techniques of astrophotography with the theme: Photograph the light of Sahara!

On 13 November, Durham will host Lumiere, one of the United Kingdom's largest outdoor light festivals, exploring how light can change the world through science, the arts, spirituality and the use of public spaces. During this festival, a very special conference will be held on Light, Art, the Universe and Everything.

Light: Beyond the Bulb continues to dazzle audiences with astronomy throughout the upcoming weeks and across different countries. The exhibition will visit Brookville, NY, United States; Hardbakke, Norway; Gijón, Spain; Buelach, Switzerland, and Meridian High School and Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, United States.

Find Light: Beyond the Bulb at a place near you at http://lightexhibit.org/iylexhibits.html.

Don’t miss the Globe at Night international citizen science campaign for monitoring light pollution from 2 to 11 November. Learn more here: http://www.globeatnight.org/.

And these are only the events dedicated to astronomy; there are many more exciting light-related events happening around the world. Learn more here: http://www.light2015.org/Home/Event-Programme.html.


4) The International School for Young Astronomers

The International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) is a project run by the IAU with the object of broadening the participants’ perspective on astronomy. This year’s event will be at the Facultad de Ciencias Espaciales of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, from 22 November to 12 December. The programme covers a vast range of outreach activities aimed at the general public, as well as special sessions devoted to education, outreach and heritage that are directed at all the young participating astronomers.

Learn more: http://faces.unah.edu.hn/isya/.


5) Open Science Centre

The Open Science Centre (OSC) developed by Leiden University is an engaging learning space based on open standards: open architecture, open education, open technology and open science that fosters the sustainable development of local communities through science and technology. During World Space Week last October, the project announced the release of their website, as well as the dedicated GitHub repository with some of the first drawings and documents that everyone can download and comment on.

The OSC team encourages everyone to visit both places and share your feelings and critiques:
Website: http://www.opensciencecentre.org/
GitHub: https://github.com/unawe/OpenScienceCentre


6) NASA's 2015 Cassini Scientist for a Day essay competition

This NASA programme provides an opportunity for students to act like the real scientists on the Cassini mission, who frequently have to make difficult decisions about which images to take. The winners will get the chance to see real planetary scientists and engineers discuss why these topics are interesting and significant. For the competition, students will have to conduct research on their topic of choice, and write an essay of up to 500 words, explaining why the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn should take their chosen target images.

Interested in hosting this competition in your country? Learn more about how to do it here: http://go.nasa.gov/1N9EP8u. Learn more about the contest here: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/scientistforaday.


7) ALMA kids

The ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) website for children allows youngsters to discover and explore the world's largest observatory in a fun and interactive way. Parents and children, students and teachers can all enjoy recent scientific articles about ALMA’s discoveries. The articles are specially written in an informal, fun way, so that children can discover ALMA with Talma & ALMA, an online comic, experience games and much more. The website is available in English, Spanish and Japanese.

Learn more about ALMA kids: http://kids.alma.cl/?lang=en.


8) The Martian

Even if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, just by browsing the internet, there is a huge chance that you will have encountered a reference to The Martian somewhere. Love it or hate it, there are many many articles and comments about the film, which constitute a great chance for outreach. There are great articles around on the web where you can discover and explore all the science behind The Martian and share with your communities at your outreach events. Here are only a few examples:

Astronomy Magazine: Behind the Science of The Martian
Slate Magazine: The Real Science Behind The Martian
Tech Insider: The Martian Reviewed by Astronauts and Scientists
Quartz: A real-life astronaut reviews the Matt Damon film The Martian
NASA: Nine Real NASA technologies in The Martian

Have you planned an outreach activity on the science behind The Martian? Let us know at outreach@iau.org.


9) Upcoming meetings & global events around the world

a) 2nd Symposium of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR): Water and Life in the Universe
Date: 9–13 November 2015
Location: Foz do Iguaçu — Brazil
More Information: http://cosparbrazil2015.org/

b) The XI Asian–Pacific Astronomy Olympiad
Date: 12–22 November 2015
Location: Ashulia, Bangladesh
More Information: http://www.issp.ac.ru/iao/apao/2015/index_e.html

c) ESA/GTTP teacher training 2015
Date: 23 and 27 November, 2015
Location: European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands
More Information: http://bit.ly/1PP7VZp

d) 1st Symposium on Space Educational Activities
Date: 9–12 December 2015
Location: Padova, Italy
More Information: http://ssasymposium.org/

e) ESO Astronomy Camp
Date: 26 December 2015 to 1 January 2016
Location: Astronomical Observatory of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley, Saint-Barthélemy, Nus, Italy
More information: http://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann15038/

f) Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2016 Conference
Date: 16–20 May 2016
Location: Medellín, Colombia
More information: https://www.facebook.com/CAPconference

g) International Planetarium Society Conference
Date: 19–25 June 2016
Location: Warsaw, Poland
More Information: http://www.ips2016.org/

h) IAU Symposia IAUS 326: Research in Astronomy Education: Far-reaching Impacts and Future Directions
Date: 4–7 October 2016
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
More Information: https://www.iau.org/science/meetings/future/symposia/1159/


10) Contributions to this newsletter

Here at the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach we are always looking for more news about astronomical education and outreach events around the world, so please share your story with us! If you are organising any large-scale events at a regional or international level, offering astronomy education or communication job positions, have any special innovative projects or inspiring stories, looking for professional–amateur collaboration in astronomy, or have created any educational resources, let us know by sending an email to outreach@iau.org.


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