World Science Day 2009

World Science Day 2009

©UNESCO

Celebrated each year on 10 November, World Science Day for Peace and Development provides an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the contribution science makes to achieving sustainable development and enhancing the prospects for peace.

In his message to mark World Science Day this year, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura observes that, ‘at this time of global economic and environmental distress, one of the most hopeful signs for the future is the push for a transition to a green economy.’

Read the Director-General’s message.

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The Witch Head

If you look closely at this year’s poster (above), you may be able to recognize the pointed nose and jutting chin of the Witch Head Nebula. Here she is in all her glory in the Eridanus Constellation, basking in the light of her massive neighbouring star, Rigel, which is 40,000 times brighter than our Sun. Light streams from Rigel across 40 light-years to illuminate the Witch Head Nebula; this light is then reflected a further 775 light-years to reach us on Earth.

Believe it or not, this image was produced by an amateur! Today, amateur astrophotographers can produce dazzling digital images of the cosmos that trump what professional observatories were producing when film still reigned supreme. From his home in Pennsylvania (USA), Steve Mazlin acquired the data for this three-panel mosaic image from the Star Shadows Remote Observatory located in New Mexico. This entailed 15 hours of data collection through several different filters, followed by many additional hours on the computer ‘processing’ the data into the image you see.

Download the poster

Join in the celebration by downloading or printing the poster for your own use.

Read about the history of World Science Day

Learn more about astronomy

If you would like to read about some of the latest discoveries in astronomy or how to prepare a human mission to Mars, click here to read the January, July and October issues of UNESCO’s journal, A World of Science.

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