International Year of Astronomy raises millions of eyes to the skies

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Berlin, July 2 (ANI): The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has achieved a milestone of sorts, in the sense that over a million people have already looked at the sky through a telescope for the first time, and even more have newly engaged in astronomy in just six months this year.

This is just one of many achievements, as countless ongoing projects and planned initiatives indicate that the IYA2009 is well on the way towards achieving many of its goals.

UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) launched 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy under the theme "The Universe, Yours to Discover".

The IYA2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, with events at national, regional and global levels throughout the whole of 2009.

Now, halfway through 2009, much has been achieved and even more can be expected in the future.

With the aim of providing low-cost telescopes that offer views far better than those obtained by Galileo Galilei some 400 years ago, the venture has picked up significant pace since the IYA2009 began.

By the end of July, the first 60,000 Galileoscopes will have been shipped, and a further 100,000 are currently in production.

More than 4000 Galileoscopes have been generously donated by the IYA2009 and individuals to organizations and schools in developing countries.

This gesture aptly demonstrates the commitment of astronomy enthusiasts to the IYA2009 goal of making the skies accessible to all.

But perhaps the most impressive figures for the IYA2009 have come from the national activities that have brought together hundreds of thousands of people in many countries for astronomy-themed events.

According to IAU President Catherine Cesarsky, "It's amazing to see just how far the International Year of Astronomy 2009 has progressed over the last six months. The hard work put in by professional and amateur astronomers is making the IYA2009's theme, 'The Universe, Yours to Discover' a reality." (ANI)

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