the PDF version
Contact for subscription:
S. Schneegans, Editor
Vol. 5 N° 1
p 2 - Secrets of the night sky
p 10 - Experts call for glacier
research centre for Central Asia
p 10 - Launch of first centre for water law
p 11 - UNESCO and Korea to foster science parks in South
p 11 - Grid computing links Africans to diaspora
p 11 - A first intercontinentalbiosphere reserve
13 - Research grants for 25 young scientists
p 13 - Sixty years of science at UNESCO
p 15 -When is a planet
not a planet? Jean Audouze has the answer
p 17 - The sandwatchers
p 21 - Helping Africa's best and brighest
lift science at home
p 24 - Diary
p 24 - New releases
your telescopes !
governments feel there are too many International Years. It
is true that the new century has already shone the spotlight
on mountains, freshwater, physics and desertification; the
International Union of Geological Sciences is presently gearing
up for the International Year of Planet Earth in 2008.
governments propose International Years to the United Nations,
it is in fact largely the scientific community which implements
them, with the support of the media.
At UNESCOs last General Conference in October 2005,
Member States endorsed Italys proposal for an International
Year of Astronomy in 2009. The next step will be for at least
one of these same Member States to bring the proposal before
the United Nations General Assembly within the next few months.
my view, an International Year of Astronomy would have numerous
benefits. For one thing, the International Astronomical Union
(IAU) is very committed. It is already planning star-gazing
nights for the general public. As the IAU has national members
in just 62 countries however, UNESCOs involvement will
be crucial to ensuring the Year benefits all Member States.
aim of the Year would be to foster the introduction of astronomy
into school curricula. This is precisely the goal of UNESCOs
Space Education Programme. As part of this effort, the programme
donates portable telescopes to schools and organizes rocket
launching workshops for children, as you will discover
in this issue.
The Year would also encourage amateur astronomy clubs. The
sky is an open-air theatre which everyone can contemplate,
with or without instruments. You dont need a telescope
to admire a shooting star or comet. Mercury, Venus, Mars and
Jupiter were all known two thousand years before the invention
of the telescope.
The Year would be an opportunity for clubs to help one another.
A number already have webpages explaining how to make a telescope.
These telescopes can be modest affairs. Lets not forget
that Galileo discovered Jupiters four moons in 1609
using a telescope just a few centimetres in diameter.
is not only one of the oldest sciences in the world, it is
also on the cutting edge of research. Remember the excitement
last month when NASA published photos of bright new deposits
in two gullies on Mars which suggested that water had carried
sediment through them sometime in the past seven years, thereby
reviving speculation about the potential for microbial life
on Mars? The event made the headlines around the world.
What better way to reconcile children with science and improve
the populations general scientific culture than via
astronomy? What better occasion to do so than via an International
Year of Astronomy in 2009?
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences