by Sze-leung Cheung

iau wbI thought many of the readers of this GAM blog might know that the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) took place at 2009 was a huge success, it is believed that IYA2009 was one of the most successful international year proclaimed by the United Nations ever. The great success of IYA2009 was heavily relied on the work of the IYA2009 Secretariat and the network of national coordinators (the SPoCs) at that time. This is a role model for many forthcoming international years, including the International Year of Light 2015 that I am going to talk about.

Four years has past since IYA2009, the momentum is still here, however we need some extra push in order to keep this rolling. In view of this, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has established the “Office for Astronomy Outreach” (OAO), hosted and supported by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and funded by many Asian institutions currently (please let me know if you want to fund us!), to coordinate the global outreach efforts. This is very essential and the IAU is reactivating the massive astronomy outreach network, we are in the process of appointing the National Outreach Contacts (NOCs) and building a huge database with collection of astronomy clubs and events around the world. The network not only serve the purpose of information dissemination, but also a platform for the outreach community to learn, to build and to grow.

The OAO is also the bridge between the professional astronomers and the general public, the coordination hub and driver for global astronomy outreach projects, e.g. the International Year of Light 2015 (IYL2015).

The United Nations has proclaimed year 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. Astronomy is about electromagnetic wave, and electromagnetic wave is light, therefore one of the cornerstone project of IYL2015 will be called the “Cosmic Light”, which belongs to the astronomical domain. Nonetheless, cosmic light is not only about the science of light, but also about the light and nature, the quality use of light, or in other words, the problem of “light pollution”. So, in 2015, we would like to once again to call the global community to plan and organize activities to engage the public to observe and understand the light from the universe, to promote the quality use of light and minimize light pollution.

In early March, IAU organized the IYL kickoff meeting with the chairman of IYL steering committee, we have formulated the basic framework for Cosmic Light cornerstone, and we are going to issue the guidelines and call for proposal in May. We hope the global active participation in the cosmic light cornerstone will trigger impact in the society. Please keep an eye of the IAU website for updates. Please also feel free to write to  for any comments or suggestions.


sze-leungSze-leung Cheung is the IAU International Outreach Coordinator heading the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach hosted at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan at Tokyo. He is responsible for connecting the professional astronomers with the public and conduct a number of union-wide events like the International Year of Light and the exoplanets naming.


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