What is IYA?

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union 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.

The focus areas for IYA are:

  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Citizen Science
  • Education
  • Cultural Astronomy
  • Dark Skies
  • Observing
  • New Media
  • Science Centers
  • Telescope Kits

For more information on IYA goals and/or activities, visit: http://www.astronomy2009.org/

How is Digitalis participating in IYA?

1) For the Dark Skies theme of IYA, we are creating a set of Stellarium software scripts and suggested narrations. There are four script subjects:

  • Apparent magnitude
  • Finding Orion in the sky
  • Light pollution (gradually increasing Stellarium's light pollution simulation and discussing its effect on the sky); and
  • How to provide the best data for Globe at Night by viewing Orion under different amounts of light pollution (i.e., determining the appropriate limiting magnitude to report).

Each subject has one script written for 45 degrees north latitude and another for 45 degrees south latitude, for a total of eight scripts. These scripts will be included on a DVD of planetarium Dark Skies activities, videos, and other resources being compiled by Chuck Bueter. Hopefully the DVD will be ready in late September or early October, 2008. All available details about the DVD can be found at: http://www.lettherebenight.com/

Digitalis customers will be able to download the scripts and suggested narrations from the Digitalis community website.

2) For the Cultural Astronomy theme, we are compiling a list of background resources (websites, books, etc.) for constellations from around the world as well as collections of legends about the sun, the moon, and the Milky Way. The resources and legend collections will be posted on the following webpage when ready: http://astronomy2009.us/storytelling/

Digitalis customers can download the legend collections from the Digitalis community website.

3) Karrie Berglund, Digitalis' Director of Education, is a member of the United States IYA Visitor/Science Centers, Observatories and Planetaria Working Group. This working group's vision is: “To engage every relevant US public outreach institution in IYA programming and deliver promotional assistance to help reach all potential audiences for those institutions.” (Quotation from: http://astronomy2009.us/epo_centers/) She encourages anyone with suggestions for this working group to email her: Karrie at DigitalisEducation.com.

4) Karrie Berglund also contributed a paper to the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's 2008 Conference Proceedings about using Stellarium software to meet the goals of IYA. For those unfamiliar with Stellarium, it is free, open source software that Digitalis helps develop. It is available from: http://Stellarium.org.