by Ricardo Cardoso Reis

I know, I know... You’re thinking “Why is he still writing about something that happened 4 years ago?”

iya logoWell, it’s because even now, I keep finding the fruits from that tree. Either in the form of projects that were created, appeared because, or had huge boosts during IYA2009.

And the first that comes to mind is, of course, Global Astronomy Month (GAM), a direct descendant of the largest outreach activity in history – 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA). I am very proud to have played a small part in both of them, co-creating SunDay. But if you are reading this, then you know enough about GAM.

You might have also read about two other IYA2009 children from previous bloggers: Kevin Govender wrote about the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), which spawned from the “Developing Astronomy Globally” cornerstone project; Kimberly Arcand wrote about (one of my personal favorites) From the Earth to the Universe (FETTU).

But there are many more, and in case you don’t know them, here are a few:


  • Just recently I was made aware of the Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO), a hub for coordinating public outreach activities around the world. Can you spot the similarities between the logos?
  • The IYA2009 cornerstone project Dark Skies Awareness had a part to play in IUA Resolution B5 “In Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight”. This helped the cause of the Starlight Initiative, a project of defence of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars.

Last year I had the privilege to do an outreach event in the worlds’ first Starlight Tourist Destination, the Alqueva lake region, in Portugal. In this event, a joint organization between Dark Sky Alqueva and Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, I found myself under a sky I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The photo I took doesn’t do it justice, but it gives you an idea:

alqueva dark sky v2

(Photo: Ricardo Cardoso Reis)

And yes, that’s the Milky Way in the center and the the Andromeda galaxy on the lower right.

  • The cornerstone project Portal to the Universe is one of the largest astronomy web portals, where you can get news, podcasts/vodcasts and links to blogs. It has really become a one stop news portal for all things astronomy.
  • Another one of my favorites is Universe Awareness (UNAWE), which uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology. Their collaboration with ESO, the Space Scoop, creates children’s versions of ESO’s press releases. As much as I enjoy the “real” news, these versions make me wish I was a kid again. You can read more on UNAWE and GAM in this previous blog.

There are many more I could talk about, but I’ll leave you with this last one: The World At Night (TWAN), an international effort to present stunning nightscape photos and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against celestial attractions. Talk about Astronomy meets Art! Some of the photos there are just breathtaking and so good, that several of them were featured in National Geographic.


Ricardo ReisRicardo Cardoso Reis is an outreach assistant at Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, in Portugal, where he produces and presents show in the Planetarium of Porto, writes news and press releases, orients telescope observation nights (and days), and supervises hands-on activities in projects such as Junior University, Researchers Night in Europe or Astronomy in the Summer.

During the International Year of Astronomy 2009 he was the coordinator of the global project Dawn of IYA2009 and was a task group member of the Solar Physics Task Group, 100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA) and Galilean Nights (GN). Of 100HA and GN he was also Portugal's national co-coordinator.


    You need to be logged in to leave a comment