The International Astronomical Union (IAU) celebrates this year a century of life and will celebrate it surrounded by professional and enthusiastic astronomers at different world events to stimulate interest in science as a development tool.
“It is a matter of celebrating not only the Hundred Years of the organization, but of highlighting the astronomical discoveries and the potential that astronomy has to help in cooperation, technological development and diplomacy,” Jorge Rivero González, coordinator of the celebrations in Holland, explained today to Efe.
With more than 1,000 events and activities registered in 95 countries, the IAU is preparing for Peculiar celebrations that will last a whole year and will point especially to the importance of astronomy as a tool, and not just as science itself.
The celebrations will be inaugurated on the weekend, between the 10th and 13th of January, with 100 consecutive hours of astronomy that will take place in parallel in 75 countries, not only with star observations but also with 420 other events.
For four days and three nights, professional astronomers, amateurs, enthusiasts and interested public will share knowledge, questions, experiences and curiosities in different centers, such as the Leiden Astronomical Observatory, but also in colleges and universities.
Rivero González explains that all the projects for the centennial began to be prepared in 2017, through a kind of” Coordinating Secretariat ” of events in the Netherlands and reactivating the network of nodes in different countries to include them in the preparations and plans.
Communities around the world have registered to participate in this “joint effort to bring astronomy to the public”, especially with the help of the outreach office established in Japan, the coordinator, a Spanish resident in Leiden, stresses.
The star event of the International Astronomical Union 1919-2019 is scheduled for 11 and 12 April, with a large celebration at the Academy Palace in Brussels, at a ceremony that will bring together hundreds of renowned scientists, high-level officials, members of the astronomical industry, legislators and young researchers.
Among others, the Nobel Laureate in Dutch chemistry Ben Feringa, and the Nobel Laureate in physics Brian Schmidt, along with Japanese astronaut Chiaki Mukai (JAXA) and American astronaut John Grunsfeld (NASA), the IAU said in a statement.
In addition, the other activities scheduled for this year include exhibitions such as “Above and Beyond” or programs at Einstein’s or astronomy and Astrophysics schools, which will have creative support structures at their disposal to involve their students in the learning process.
The IAU has supported 21 other special projects at the national and local levels around the world, which will have more specific objectives, such as gender equity in Mozambique, awareness of the dark skies in Ireland and the Netherlands, and other outreach activities in urban and remote areas in Argentina, Brazil, India and Zambia.