A Perfect Storm of Turbulent Gases in the Omega/Swan Nebula (M17)  
NASA, ESA and J. Hester (ASU)
 
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Welcome to IYA!

The main goal of the U.S. IYA 2009 effort, led by the American Astronomical Soci-ety, is to offer an engaging astronomy experience to every person in the country. Since the IYA is a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s introduction of the telescope to astronomy, one of the key engaging experiences we’ll offer is to give as many people as possible the opportunity to look through a telescope.

Accordingly, the AAS has established the “Looking Through a Telescope” Working Group, chaired by Rick Fienberg (Editor in Chief, Sky & Telescope). Naturally, we’ll focus on the celestial targets that Galileo himself looked at, most of which are visible even from light-polluted cities: The Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Pleiades, Praesepe, the Trapezium, Mizar/Alcor, the Milky Way, and the Sun. We want to offer more than a “gee whiz” experience. We want people (especially kids) to experience firsthand how observations lead to an understanding of the natural world.

Another major goal of the U.S. IYA effort is to cultivate sustainable partner-ships. “Sidewalk astronomy” is an ideal vehicle for astronomy clubs and individual amateur astronomers to participate in IYA 2009. In addition to their own programs, local amateurs will be encouraged to set up their scopes at events held by profes-sional organizations, including NASA, universities, observatories, planetariums, and museums of science or natural history. The relationships forged during this large-scale collaboration for public outreach in astronomy will continue beyond 2009.

We aim to give 10 million people a good look through a telescope in 2009. This is achievable if, for example, 100,000 amateur observers each show the sky to 100 people. We plan to set up an area on the U.S. IYA 2009 website where people can comment on their telescopic observations — especially their reactions to “first looks.” We hope to collect the comments on a disc or chip and launch them into orbit on a NASA space telescope.



IYA and You & Telescopes

The main goal of the U.S. IYA 2009 effort is to offer an engaging astronomy experience to every person in the country. Since the IYA is a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s introduction of the telescope to astronomy, the key engaging experience we’ll offer is the opportunity to look through a small telescope at the celestial targets Galileo looked at: the Moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Pleiades, Praesepe, the Trapezium, Mizar/Alcor, the Milky Way, and the Sun.

Another goal of the U.S. IYA effort is to cultivate sustainable partnerships. “Sidewalk astronomy” is an ideal vehicle for astronomy clubs and individual amateur astronomers to participate in IYA 2009. In addition to their own programs, local amateurs will set up their scopes at events held by professional organizations, including NASA, universities, observatories, planetariums, and museums of science or natural history. The relationships forged during this large-scale collaboration for public outreach in astronomy will continue beyond 2009.

We aim to give 10 million people their first look through an astronomical telescope in 2009. This is achievable if, for example, 100,000 amateur observers each show the sky to 100 people.

Millions of small telescopes are sold every year, but anecdotal evidence suggests that most are rarely used for astronomy. Our “telescope amnesty” program will invite people to bring their little-used telescopes to IYA 2009 events, where astronomers will teach them how to use them and offer advice on repairs, improvements, and/or replacements, encouraging more people to stay involved in the hobby.