2009 to be celebrated as International Year of Astronomy

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Berlin, Dec 30 (ANI): The world is gearing up to celebrate 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has been launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme, "The Universe, yours to discover".

Thousands of IYA2009 events are described on the national websites, as well as on astronomy2009.org.

The official IYA2009 Opening Ceremony will take place in Paris on 15 and 16 January 2009.

It will feature keynote speakers, including Nobel Laureates, and live video feeds to scientists working in remote locations.

Many nations are holding their own Opening Ceremonies in January and February, showing their dedication to the Year.

The IYA2009 Solar Physics Group have been busy planning a grand worldwide campaign, with over 30 countries involved at more than 150 venues, which will see amateur stargazers set up their telescopes on pavements as well as in science centres, letting passers-by observe the Sun using special safety equipment.

The Cosmic Diary is an example of a global activity occurring during 2009, with the release of its official website on New Year's Day.

The project concerns the daily lives of full-time astronomers.

More than 50 bloggers, professionals from over 35 countries and employed by organisations such as ESO, NASA, ESA and JAXA have already begun producing content, writing about their lives, the work they conduct and the challenges they face.

IYA2009 seeks to involve the public at large in its activities, and to this end amateur astronomers have been called upon to help organize and run events.

Astronomical events to look out for during 2009 include the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, occurring on 22 July 2009 and lasting 6 minutes 39 seconds over a narrow corridor through countries including India, Bangladesh and China.

A strong shower of Leonid meteors is also expected in mid-November 2009, with forecasters predicting upwards of an incredible 500 shooting stars per hour.

In mid-October in the northern hemisphere, Jupiter will be placed at dusk, a perfect time to show public the giant planet and its moons. (ANI)

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