The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is over, and we are working to build upon its legacy. Many of the projects that ran during IYA2009 have come to an end, but the networks that developed and ran them – networks of amateur and professional astronomers, science communicators, educators – are still here, passionate about continuing to engage the public with astronomy.
One of the key duties of the IYA2009 UK Coordinator was to support and develop these networks, and it is that support that would be most sorely missed had IYA2009 just petered out at the end of last year. Fortunately that hasn’t happened, and the three main IYA2009 project partners – the Royal Astronomical Society, the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and the Institute of Physics – have been joined by two others – the Society for Popular Astronomy and the British Astronomical Association – in Beyond IYA.
Beyond IYA aims to consolidate and build upon the networks and projects developed during IYA2009. We’ll be running more TwitterMeteorwatches (10,000 people took part in last year’s Perseid Twitter Meteorwatch), another Moonwatch (20,000 people attended over 300 events during last year’s Spring and Autumn Moonwatches), and offering continued support to the 1000 schools that were given a free telescope as part of the SPA’s Telescopes for Schools project.