[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
For many, it was their first glimpse of the wonders of the heavens through a telescope. For others, the worldwide celebration of 100 Hours of Astronomy was the perfect opportunity to impart their knowledge and excitement, helping unveil the universe to fresh and eager eyes.
Over four days and nights, the world’s astronomers, educators and enthusiasts brought continuous astronomy activities to the global public as part of events marking the General Assembly proclaimed International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).
The event featured a wide range of public outreach activities, including setting up telescopes at science centres, research observatory webcasts, and sidewalk astronomy events as well as holding observing sessions in schools and providing access to online telescopes.
For 100 hours, people from all walks of life shared the unique experience of observing the sky, and conveyed a multitude of messages, from the personal benefit of astronomical knowledge to the pressing issue of curbing light pollution.
There was a live 24-hour webcast dubbed: "Around the World in 80 Telescopes," which followed day and night around the globe to some of the most advanced observatories on and off the planet.
The 100 Hours of Astronomy event from 2-5 April was the single largest event to mark the IYA2009. Over 1 million people were believed to have attended more than 1500 events, in 130 countries. Many participants sent out twitter messages, while others wrote live blogs on their experience.
Several other local, national and global programmes have been planned to take place through the year to celebrate astronomy. Visit the IYA2009 web site to locate a local or national event.
In February 2008, the General Assembly in resolution A/RES/62/200 declared 2009 as International Year of Astronomy, encouraging all Member States and other actors to take actions to increase public awareness of the importance of astronomical sciences and to promote widespread access to new knowledge and experiences of astronomical observation.
The inaugural ceremony of the IYA2009 was held in Paris, in January, under the auspices of the UN, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
About 900 peopleparticipated, among them eminent scientists, including Nobel Prize winners and young students from over 100 countries.
The IYA2009 is an initiative of the IAU and UNESCO. The year is being marked under the general slogan: “The Universe, Yours to Discover.”