IYA2009 kickoff at U.C. Berkeley

Received in email from the AANC mailing list:

The International Year of Astronomy 2009
(IYA2009) is a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to
society and culture, emphasizing education, public participation, and
the involvement of young people. The grand opening ceremony will be held
Jan. 15 and 16 in Paris at the headquarters of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

While hundreds are expected to attend the Paris event, including members
of royal families, ministers, Nobel Laureates, scientists and students,
many national and regional events also are scheduled.

UC Berkeley’s Department of Astronomy joins the international
celebration with talks on the science and history of astronomy on the
third Saturday of each month, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, including two
talks on April 18, UC Berkeley’s annual CalDay open house. Next month’s
talk, scheduled for Feb. 21, is “Black Holes: Monsters Lurking at the
Centers of Galaxies,” by theoretician Eliot Quataert, professor of
astronomy and physics. Upcoming topics include dark matter, dark energy,
the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, star birth and their
explosive deaths, the solar system, and Galileo Galilei, who first
turned a telescope on the heavens 400 years ago.

To kick off the celebration, UC Berkeley will be hosting a lecture, “The
Search for Habitable Planets and Life in the Universe” in which Geoffrey
, UC Berkeley professor of astronomy, director of the Center for
Integrative Planetary Science, and the world’s foremost planet hunter,
will be speaking. It will take lace this Saturday, January 17th at 11
a.m in room 100 Genetics and Planet Biology Building UC Berkeley. The
building is located in the northwest corner of the campus:

For a complete list of the year’s talks and other UC Berkeley activities
planned to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, link to
http://astro.berkeley.edu/iya/. For more information on IYA2009, link to

Thank you,

University of California, Berkeley Astronomy Department

365 Days of Astronomy Podcasts

Here are the links to the last few days:

January 2nd: Jeff Setzer on using your first telescope

January 3rd: Emily Lakdawalla on 5 years of Spirit on Mars

January 4th: Dr. Pamela Gay and Fraiser Cain on Dark Matter and Dark Energy

January 5th: Doug Welch and Michael Koppleman from Slacker Astronomy on the seasons and Solar System Geometry

January 6th: Carolyn Collins Peterson (The Spacewriter) Top Ten reasons why stargazing is cool.

January 7th: Travis Searle, Rebecca Turner, Mike Simonsen from AAVSO on understanding variable stars.

January 8th: Stuart Lowe from the Jodcast on Pulsars

All In One

I have a couple of old favorite podcasts, Astronomy Cast (by Dr. Pamela Gay and Frasier Cain) and The Jodcast (by the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank ).  Of course in IYA2009 I’m adding 365DaysOfAstronomy to that list.

Now, in a wonderful all-in-one, the January 2009 Jodcast talks to Dr. Gay about the 365DaysOfAstronomy.

365 Days of Astronomy

The 365 Days of Astronomy podcast is up and running. If you haven’t heard of this yet, it’s a great way to celebrate the IYA2009.

Every day in 2009 a short podcast will be published on some topic of astronomy. Some of them will be deep, technical and produced by heavy hitters. Others will be humorous, light-hearted, and aimed at a different audience. Some (like mine on February 13) will be aimed at a specific demographic, and others will be broad-based with wider appeal.

So far two podcasts have been published: A welcome message on January 1 and on January 2, Jeff Setzer posted “Tips for Using Your First Telescope

So fire up iTunes or your favorite feed reader, and begin listening in. I plan to make it part of my daily routine in 2009.

Happy IYA Eve!

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating 400 years since Galileo first turned his telescope to the sky.   The IYA 2009 is a global initiative by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky.

A series of global events is planned, some in real life, some on the web.   2009 is the year to get out and discover the universe!

I’ll be participating in the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast (February 13).  If you’re an amateur astronomer, this is just one of they ways you can get involved.   Other ways include Project Astro, or volunteering to provide astronomy related resources to local schools.   Here in California astronomy is taught in the 5th grade, so start calling the schools in your area and asking the teachers if they’d like you to get involved.

I’ve been doing classroom talks for almost three years now (Since January 2007) and I’ve found them to be fun, and the kids to be attentive and involved, and found the teachers to be gateful. Be prepared to be asked questions like “What would happen if you fell into a black hole?”  (the single most common question I’ve ever gotten either in classrooms or at Fremont Peak).

One of the changes here will be the addition of a ‘resources’ page where some of the material I’ve used in classrooms will be posted, as well as a link to my 365 Days of Astronomy podcast episode (my first ever podcast…woot!) and transcript.

So remember, the Universe is yours to discover in 2009!