Teachers’ Lounge

International Year of Astronomy

by megan on Dec. 31st, 2008 2 Comments

People all across the globe will look towards the sky in 2009, proclaimed the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) by the International Astronomical Union and the United Nations. Celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first glimpse of the heavens through his telescope, the goals of the project include increasing awareness of astronomy, sparking an interest in science in our youth, and providing a framework within which the citizens of the globe can peacefully unite. Not a bad mission, eh?

Although the San Francisco fog often obscures the night sky, don’t let that stop you from teaching your students about the contents of the universe — and how they too can observe the heavenly bodies with ease. I recommended the following websites as resources for curious educators. If you are new to astronomy, have no fear! IYA2009 is an educational outreach initiative to all peoples of all ages, so you’ll be sure to find activities simple enough to complete in your backyard.

IYA Discovery Guides: These teacher curriculum guides contain background content and hands-on activities related to the “Celestial Body of the Month.” While you visit the homepage of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, don’t overlook the activities accessible from the left margin!

NASA IYA Site: A clean, easy-to-browse site. Click GO OBSERVE! to learn what objects are prominent in the sky each month, dive into HOT TOPICS for extra information and stunning images, and browse through RESOURCES to find multimedia content.

Night Sky Network: This association of amateur astronomers manages an extensive searchable database of activities.

Do you have a favorite resource? A tried-and-true lesson? Let us know!

2 Comments So Far

  1. Jeffrey Silverman on Jan. 24th, 2009 at 3:10 PM

    The University of California – Berkeley Astronomy Department will be celebrating IYA throughout the year with monthly public lectures, occasional telescope construction and viewing parties, and many of our department’s graduate students (including myself) will be visiting local Bay Area classrooms (from elementary schools to high schools) to discuss and teach astronomy. Please take a look at our official website (http://astro.berkeley.edu/iya) and e-mail myself or Steve Croft (scroft@astro.berkeley.edu) for more information.

  2. megan on Jan. 25th, 2009 at 11:48 AM

    Thank you kindly for the helpful message, Jeffrey! With a free lecture offered on the third Saturday of each month, I’m sure everyone can find a topic that particularly suits their fancy. Seating is first-come, first-served, folks, so mark your calendars!

    The line-up of distinguished professors and astronomers speaking at UC Berkeley complements our own Benjamin Dean Lecture series, which takes place in the Morrison Planetarium. Details are listed on the Events calendar (http://www.calacademy.org/events/). I recommend purchasing tickets in advance! Cost: $5-10

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