Happy New Year

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And welcome to the International Year of Astronomy 2009!

It’s the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of a telescope to conduct astronomical observations, so the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have joined forces to “help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery.”

OK, I’ll admit, that sounds pretty much like a boilerplate proclamation.

But the point of IYA2009 is to stimulate interest world-wide, and particularly among young people, in astronomy and science. It will involve a series of events and activities across the globe, as well as in cyberspace.

So do please check out the IYA2009 web site — there’s lots to absorb there. And keep a lookout for associated events in your neighborhood — there’s bound to be something related at some point in the year. Meanwhile, all sorts of blogs (SOS included) will be putting a special focus on astronomy-related topics this year. I’ll be leading off my own little effort with a podcast episode (yes, believe it or not!) on exoplanets in the next few days…

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