International Year of Astronomy.

International Year of Astronomy and Science Education

 …” equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls his adventure science”. 

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to scientific development and cultural enrichment. Organized by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, it has been many years in the making.

The European astronomical community has recently put together an unparalleled strategic plan for European Astronomy, the ASTRONET Infrastructure Roadmap. This lays out long-term scientific and investment plans for European astronomy over the next 10–20 years. This time education and public outreach (EPO) were not forgotten, and they play a major role in the document. A group of European experts analyzed the current status of EPO in Europe and outlined a list of recommendations to implement over the coming years and decades. Working side by side with research, public outreach will require an effective synergy of resources across Europe and beyond.

The term ‘cosmos’ commonly used in reference to the universe and space, originates from a Greek word which means ‘an orderly and harmonious system’.  In launching these activities we are one country working together with 136 other countries around the world, all trying hard to bring harmony, peace and understanding through unification. 

A gamut of events will be organized during the whole year seeking to create the same sense of awe and the same urge of discovery in all our students, both young and adolescents. 

As the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble once said, ‘equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls his adventure science’.  We wish to represent science as a joyful experience, full of creativity and innovation for all.  For as Tamara Davies, a young scientist, recently wrote ‘I’ve learned that intelligence is of secondary importance in research. Interest and inspiration are far more telling signs of whether someone will be successful in a scientific career’.   We want to seek and promote the popularization of science within our society.  We wish to instill a greater scientific culture amongst our people through participation in such activities. 

A low level of public awareness of science and technology developments may impede the effective utilization of existing knowledge for future inventions and innovations. On the contrary, providing citizens with information and experiences that will help them build informed opinions on the available range of new technologies creates a wider public consensus for a sustainable development, a development that must be based on continuous scientific progress and technological advancement.

Moreover, further research and technology developments will make science known to a wide segment of the public, i.e., to a larger number of potential entrepreneurs, specialists, users and consumers, and this will enhance the scientific culture in the country. 

Bringing schools together:

        In the next three months, my colleague and I, backed by the Committee for IYA 2009 MALTA, will be setting centers to bring schools together. There will be seminars, workshops and exhibitions.

We will also be inviting students from all the key stages to participate in competitions. These competitions will be divided into three categories.


A: for the Primary   

B and C: for the secondary and         D:for post secondary.

We will reach the climax of our activities by welcoming amongst us a cosmonaut who will share her professional experience with our students and teachers and distribute prizes for the winners. This could only be materialized through the help of the Director of the Russian Centre for Culture and Science - Mr. Medvedev.

Category A: for the Primary school students aged 7 to 11

Teaching Science in the Primary schools is a wonderful challenge. Primary school children are very interested about what is happening around them and want to learn how everything works. Their experience, perception and questions should be the source of our teaching. We as educators have the responsibility to support them. 

For this category we will be inviting students to present drawings and works of art related to Astronomy. Drawing techniques are widely used in science. It is not news to say that some scientist started their professional life as artists. The French scientist and astronomer E.W. Tempel is an example. On the other hand, artists have always reacted to new techniques, particularly to new images from satellites and microscopes. Nowadays, in the primary, drawings and paintings are used to deepen and repeat several topics presented in class.

Category B- Early secondary school students aged 12-13

Category C- Secondary School students aged 14-16.

Astronomy in schools can be easily integrated into natural science lessons, teaching subjects such as math, physics, chemistry, geography. Moreover a deeper thinking of astronomy will help students to reflect on more philosophical and social aspects of life.

We are inviting students from this category to use their IT skills and construct power point presentation illustrating astronomy through interdisciplinary approach. 

Category D – Post Secondary Colleges.

Looking back over the last fifteen years, the increasing interest in astronomy was caused by a chain of events that people in many countries were able to observe. In 1993/4- the supernovae Messier B1 and 51 caught a lot of attention among amateur astronomers. In 1997, the comet Hale –Bopp was another phenomenon in the sky, visible for several weeks. In 1999 -thousands of people travelled to places in Europe where they able to observe the total solar eclipse. The Venus Transit in 2004, the rarest of predictable astronomical phenomena, was another occasion to bring attention to the world. Every August, many Maltese look eagerly to the sky to observe shooting stars on the clear summer nights. These opportunities to watch unusual events have raised awareness of astronomy in general.

 For this category we intent to invite student s from the post secondary sector to submit photos related to astronomy .In order to assist our students Mr. Leonard Ellul Mercer who is an amateur in astrophotography will be presenting his works in the various colleges around the island.

For more information one can contact:

·         Mr. Gaetano Bugeja: gaetano.bugeja@gov.mt

·         Mr. C. Schembri; audschembri@nextgen.net.mt

All those of you who would like to know what is going on during the year can log on the IYA official website:  http://iya2009malta.page.tl


We wish to thank the Hon Minister, the Directors General of Education, the Russian ambassador, the Malta Committee for the International Year of Astronomy for helping us in bringing all this to our students. Let’s make this year, a truly wonderful experience for our youngsters and for ourselves.

Mr. Gaetano Bugeja

Mr. Chris Schembri


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