About IYA 2009
The much anticipated decision has been announced. The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy!
The international website for IYA2009 is www.astronomy2009.org.
The following is an extract from this website:
"The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, stimulating worldwide interest not only in astronomy, but in science in general, with a particular slant towards young people. IYA2009 will mark the monumental leap forward that followed Galileo’s first use of the telescope for astronomical observations, and 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."
And then coming back to Africa:
Astronomy is NOT some esoteric science accessible only to those with telescopes! NO, it is something that is a part of us as human beings - it always has been. For as long as human beings could think, we have looked at the stars in wonder and amazement. From all around this little blue planet come ancient stories of the cosmos, as well as modern scientific discoveries. Astronomy, it would seem, is that which unites humankind in common awe and combined curiosity.
Accessibility? Well, the continent with just about the best access to the amazing night sky is Africa, reputably (and ironically) the poorest of them all! So what does IYA2009 mean to the child in a village far from so-called civilisation? Why should someone with an empty belly care about the stars? Perhaps it is because astronomy can be seen as the great unifier. Perhaps it is that which can humble every human being on a plane of universal equality. Whether you are a wealthy businessman or a starving child, we are all equal when viewed from the stars - bonded by our humanity. By stimulating thought amongst this human species perhaps we can achieve some degree of peace and unity, perhaps we can stimulate scientific interest, a desire for education - education which could free people from poverty through innovation.
When we turn to the stars, the possibilities are endless...