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20 January 2009

Thank you PRESIDENT Obama

Today was a historic day for the United States. Not only because we had a peaceful transition of the most powerful office in the world, nor because an African-American man took the mantle of that office (although both of those events play larger than what I am about to write about). Today PRESIDENT Obama acknowledged non-believers! I was already sitting up straight and proud as he took the oath of office (even with his little flub), but when he actually mentioned non-believers in his inaugural address, I finally felt as if I may be part of America, as opposed to sitting on the outskirts fighting a battle against bigotry, hatred, and small-mindedness. Like most of America, I feel incredible pride and hope for the future, albeit for different reasons than most Americans.

In a country where it would be easier to get elected to office as a felon than an atheist, it's nice to get some recognition from Citizen #1. We can only hope that this will lead to a more civil discourse on the secular nature of the Constitution, as well as understanding that Freedom OF religion requires a specific type of Freedom FROM religion. Lastly, maybe there will be more of a focus on SCIENCE as opposed to childish superstitions. Maybe I am hoping for too much?

Anyway, I was glad to hear even a slight acknowledgment. Again, thank you PRESIDENT Obama.

11 January 2009

2009 - The International Year of Astronomy

Okay, so I may be like a couple of weeks late in actually getting this post up, but I blame my preparing to deploy to Qatar on that... Anyway, I just wanted to make sure that those few folks that come here are also aware of what 2009 is all about. I am personally a huge fan of astronomy, so I feel that I MUST publicize this as well. Read on to find out more about it, and if you have a blog or some other type of publication, there is info for you here as well.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) celebrates the first astronomical use of the telescope by Galileo - a momentous event that initiated 400 years of astronomical discoveries and triggered a scientific revolution which profoundly affected our worldview. Now telescopes on the ground and in space explore the Universe, 24 hours a day, across all wavelengths of light. The President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Catherine Cesarsky says: "The International Year of Astronomy 2009 gives all nations a chance to participate in this ongoing exciting scientific and technological revolution."

The IYA2009 will highlight global cooperation for peaceful purposes - the search for our cosmic origin and our common heritage which connect all citizens of planet Earth. For several millennia, astronomers have worked together across all boundaries including geographic, gender, age, culture and race, in line with the principles of the UN Charter. In that sense, astronomy is a classic example of how science can contribute towards furthering international cooperation.

At the IAU General Assembly on 23 July 2003 in Sydney (Australia), the IAU unanimously approved a resolution in favour of the proclamation of 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. Based on Italy's initiative, UNESCO's General Conference at its 33rd session recommended that the UN General Assembly adopt a resolution to declare 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. On 20 December 2007 the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was proclaimed by the United Nations 62nd General Assembly. The UN has designated the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as the lead agency for the IYA2009. The IAU will function as the facilitating body for IYA2009.

The IYA2009 is, first and foremost, an activity for the citizens of planet Earth. It aims to convey the excitement of personal discovery, the pleasure of sharing fundamental knowledge about the Universe and our place in it, and the merits of the scientific method. Astronomy is an invaluable source of inspiration for humankind throughout all nations. So far 99 nations and 14 organisations have signed up to participate in the IYA2009 ‚ an unprecedented network of committed communicators and educators in astronomy.

For more information on the International Year of Astronomy 2009 please visit the website at

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Notes for editors

The vision of the IYA2009 is 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. All humans should realize the impact of astronomy and basic sciences on our daily lives, and understand better how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society.

The aim of the IYA2009 is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme "The Universe, Yours to Discover". IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource for all nations.

The IYA2009 activities will take place at the global and regional levels, and especially at the national and local levels. National Nodes in each country have been formed to prepare activities for 2009. These Nodes establish collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers, science centres, educators and science communicators in preparing activities for 2009.

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together almost 10,000 distinguished astronomers from all nations of the world. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

Additional information

IYA2009 website:

IYA2009 Opening Events:

Opening Ceremony Media accreditation:

UNESCO IYA2009 website:

Opening Ceremony website:

Dawn of IYA2009 (Solar Physics Group) website:

Cosmic Diary website (active 1 January 2009):

365 Days of Astronomy:

100 Hours of Astronomy:

From Earth To The Universe:

Dark Skies Awareness:

The World at Night:

International Astronomical Union website:

IYA2009 welcome video:

United States

Single Point of Contact

Doug Isbell

United States

Phone +1 520 991 0380


US IYA2009 opening eventLong Beach, CA
10 January 2009

NASA Great Observatories image release at science/nature centres and planetaria
14 - 28 February 2009

Opening of Galileo exhibit at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
2 April 2009