IYA 2009 at the Autumnal Equinox


Three months to go on what is proving to be an extraordinary year of education and public outreach in Canadian and global astronomy thanks to you and to all of our collaborators in the three partner organizations (CASCA, FAAQ, RASC), unaffiliated astronomy clubs, the arts, science centres,  parks systems, media and many more.  


Since the Summer Solstice report you have doubled the number of Canadians who have enjoyed a moment of personal astronomical discovery or Galileo Moment to >880,000!  The events data base contains >2,500 events, of which 2,300 have already taken place so perhaps  it’s no wonder we are hearing reports of volunteer burnout.  We hope that the strong feedback you are receiving from within your communities for your efforts will encourage and sustain you through the ‘blue Moon’ on 31 December.


The extended IYA discussions at the IAU in Rio de Janeiro demonstrated how successful IYA is globally.  The IAU has some 64 members, but so powerful is the IYA vision that 146 nations are carrying out IYA activities.  I find that really astounding!  My Rio impressions include:

a) amateurs play a key role everywhere in IYA programme delivery-we professionals owe them a great deal for their efforts;

b) there is a desire to continue elements of IYA internationally beyond 31 December although no specific plans seem to be in place yet at the IAU level to do so; and

c) many feel that at least one, annual, internationally-coordinated event (such as 100 Hours of Astronomy last April or Galilean Nights this October) would be an effective way of keeping the global team together (albeit at a much less intensive pace).  Also, congratulations to Dennis Crabtree, who played such a critical role in launching IYA in Canada and globally, upon his election in Rio as Chair of IAU Commission 55, Communicating Astronomy with the Public.


Julie Bolduc-Duval, our partnership’s 10 hours per week EPO coordinator, has come up to speed over the summer and seeks input on how best to ensure educational legacies beyond 31 December.  She really would like to learn about activities by CASCA members that involve the traditionally underserved communities, such as Aboriginal, rural and remote, inner cities.  Please read her Educational Note in this issue. 


In July the Royal Canadian Mint began accepting orders for the beautiful silver $30 IYA commemorative coin (see http://www.monnaieroyale.com/en/index.asp?page=2&module=0&produit=756&produitDetail=1&motscles=astronomy) .


We encourage you all to host events this fall, especially during National Science and Technology Week (16-25 October), which nicely overlaps with the new IAU IYA cornerstone, Galilean Nights (23-24 October).  The latter plus Halloween are superb opportunities for sidewalk astronomy in all our communities and immediate neighbourhoods.  How about encouraging children in your communities to adopt astronomy-themed costumes this year for Halloween?


Please keep registering your events and reporting attendance at www.astronomy2009.ca and submitting news items, too. For further IYA news check with your  department’s liaison, who receives detailed weekly reports, and keep checking our website (contributions from you are always welcome to it, too). 


Have a great fall with clear skies and the joy of sharing your astronomy knowledge and enthusiasm with your neighbours in collaboration with our generous IYA partners.


Jim Hesser

Newfoundland children exploring astronomy on Canada’s Parks Day, 18 July 2009