The OAD 2017 grant results have been announced, and we can now find out more about the exciting new projects being implemented all around the world. In this newsletter, we’ll start to regularly highlight each of these projects and invite you to enjoy and discover more.
The winners of the IAU 2015 NameExoWorlds Contest, besides getting to officially name exoworlds, had an exciting additional prize — they were also offered the possibility of naming minor planets of the Solar System, and the results are out!
In this issue, we also want to highlight the solar eclipse in Chile and Argentina on 26 February — if you have the chance, don’t miss it, and take the opportunity to share your experience with the international community. Argelia will host one of the largest astronomy festivals for the general public in Africa, and Italy is currently hosting the new Hubble Space Telescope exhibition.
Happy reading and clear skies!
The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach team
1) 17 Minor Planets Named by NameExoWorlds Contest Winners
In 2015, the IAU organised the NameExoWorlds contest, which provided for the first time an opportunity for the public to submit names for exoplanets and their stars. As a result, the names of 19 ExoWorlds were chosen by public vote — and as a reward, the winners were also given the chance to name minor planets in our Solar System. The IAU, via its Division F Working Group Small Bodies Nomenclature (SBN), has recently approved the new names of 17 minor planets after the winners made their proposals.
2) Results of the OAD Annual Call for Proposals for 2017
The IAU – Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) fifth annual call for proposals has concluded and 20 projects have been selected to receive funding in 2017. The call for proposals received a total of 127 expressions of interest which were reviewed by the OAD and its regional offices, who provided feedback with suggestions for collaborations and improvements. The OAD then received 103 full applications by the deadline of 15 September 2016. The three Task Forces reviewed all the completed applications and submitted recommendations to the Steering Committee, which approved the final list of projects. The total amount that will be granted to the funded projects will be €106 207.
3) National Outreach Contact (NOC) Corner: News from Chile
a) Annular and Partial Eclipse Information
On Sunday 26 February 2017, at around 10:30 am, people in Chile will have the opportunity to watch a partial solar eclipse (annular from the area of Aysén and Coyhaique). The Núcleo de Astronomía from the University of Diego Portáles (UDP) has compiled information — in Spanish — about this incredible natural phenomenon that will cross the Chilean Patagonia and Argentina in its annular phase, along with advice on how to safely observe it and the potential dangers of viewing the Sun directly.
b) Beyond the Stars - astrophotography book (in Spanish)
Coquimbo region in Chile has a magnificent night sky, ideal for astrophotography. It is, though, one of the least known of Chile’s fine observing sites. With the goal of encouraging the Chilean people to know and appreciate this amazing heritage, author Manuel Paredes has published the first astrophotography book entirely produced in Chile. Más allá de las Estrellas (Beyond the Stars) is filled with great images of the skies above the Cuarta region, and it is freely available to all.
4) National Outreach Contact (NOC) Corner: News from Italy
a) NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope exhibition: Our Place in Space
For 26 years, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has been expanding our cosmic horizons. In capturing an astronomical number of images, Hubble has revealed and shared the beauty, wonder, and complexity of the Universe. On 1 February 2017, a new exhibition called "Our Place in Space" premiered in Venice, Italy. It presents a breathtaking visual journey through our Solar System and out to the edge of the known Universe, alongside Hubble-inspired works by contemporary Italian artists. This new travelling exhibition will be on display until 17 April 2017 at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, in Venice, Italy.
Registration is now open for Astrobiology 2017, a research meeting by IAU’s Commission F3. The conference will take place in the Chilean Patagonia at Coyhaique from 26 November to 1 December 2017. For a truly multidisciplinary discussion, the organisation welcomes researchers at the frontier of science from the fields of astronomy, planetary and space science, chemistry, biology, geology, philosophy, sociology and ethical issues, among others. We highlight in particular the conference topics focused on societal and ethical issues linked to astrobiology and education in astrobiology. You can submit your contribution until 28 July.
This Task Force 3 – Public Outreach funded project for 2017 will address two needs in Brazil — scientific literacy and public awareness of national science — by establishing a network of astronomers interested in public outreach to act as a liaison between Brazilian astronomers and the press. The members will actively promote the appearance of national research in the press in order to counter the unbalanced coverage of international astronomy-related news; this in turn will bring greater attention to Brazilian science and hopefully stimulate more students to pursue academic careers.
Algeria will soon host one of the largest amateur astronomy meetings in Africa, taking place between 23 and 25 March in Constantine. This year’s theme is "The Universe at all wavelengths — exploring a colourful Universe, explaining the hues of celestial bodies that astrophysics reveals, looking beyond our solar neighbourhood...”. Since 2001, the National Festivals of Popular Astronomy are held for the benefit of the general public and once again many activities will take place, including sessions with more scientific content and for the general public. International participants are welcome to apply here.
On 21 March schools around the world will participate in the Eratosthenes experiment to record data and calculate the circumference of the Earth. This year the experiment will take place one day after the spring equinox (Monday 20 March 2017) at 10:29 UTC. The programme will aim to pair up schools that register their coordinates and provide contact details so that they can connect on the day of the experiment.
e) 10th International Meeting of Astronomy and Astronautics
Date: 6–8 April 2017
Location: Campos, RJ, Brazil
More Information: http://bit.ly/2e3Gj5k
f) Making the Case: Outreach & Communications for Large, International Science Projects
Date: 11–13 April 2017
Location: Pasadena, CA, USA
More information: http://conference.ipac.caltech.edu/wepoc2017
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11) Contributions to this newsletter - looking forward to hearing from you in 2017!
Here at the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach, we are always looking for more news about astronomical education and outreach events around the world. Please continue to share your stories with us in 2017! If you are organising any large-scale events at a regional or international level, offering astronomy education or communication job positions, have any innovative projects or inspiring stories, looking for professional–amateur collaboration in astronomy, or have created any educational resources, let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.