Your browser does not support JavaScript! Press and Media
Home Press and Media
Press and Media

Press Releases for IYA2009


11th December 2009:
In a fitting finale for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), astronomers and archaeologists will celebrate the five millennia of astronomical heritage at Stonehenge, the most sophisticated stone circle in the world and amongst Europe’s most important Neolithic sites. The attractions include a free public astronomy exhibition and expert-led tours of the site and surrounding landscape.

Read more


11th December 2009:
On the evening of 13th and the morning of 14th December, skywatchers across the northern hemisphere will be looking up as the Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak, in what could be one of the best night sky events this year.

Read more


10th August 2009:
Amateur astronomers across the UK are preparing to tweet the world’s first mass participation meteor star party, as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). Led by Newbury Astronomical Society, the Twitter Meteorwatch will take place on Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th August 2009, covering the peak of the Perseids meteor shower.

Read more


14th July 2009:
400 years ago English polymath Thomas Harriot became the first person to look at a celestial object through a telescope. Harriot pointed his simple ‘Dutch trunke’ telescope at the Moon on 26th July 1609, making simple drawings of our nearest astronomical neighbour from his house in Syon Park in what is now West London.

Harriot made his pioneering drawings several months before Galileo. On 26th July 2009, this pioneering work will be commemorated in Telescope 400, a public event taking place at Syon Park as part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) and funded by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). That day members of the public will join astronomers in a celebration of Harriot’s work.

Telescope 400 runs from 11.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. and is a day of activities for adults and children alike

Read more


30th June 2009:
An imaginary mouse (temporarily) occupied part of the sky, as the winning entry for a competition to design a new constellation for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009). The mouse or 'Wee Sleekit Beastie' (or 'Ode to a Mouse') was created by Laura, a year 7 pupil at Dalmeny Primary School in Edinburgh. She received the award from Liz Lochead, the Scottish Poet Laureate, in a ceremony in the planetarium at Glasgow Science Centre on 30th June.

An imaginary mouse (temporarily) occupied part of the sky, as the winning entry for a competition to design a new constellation for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009). The mouse or 'Wee Sleekit Beastie' (or 'Ode to a Mouse') was created by Laura, a year 7 pupil at Dalmeny Primary School in Edinburgh. She received the award from Liz Lochead, the Scottish Poet Laureate, in a ceremony in the planetarium at Glasgow Science Centre on 30th June.

Read more

Press Release: World’s first Dark Sky Discovery Sites announced in Scotland

March 25 2009:
To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy 2009, the world’s first Dark Sky Discovery Sites were unveiled yesterday at Newbattle Abbey College in Dalkeith.
Press Release: Tens of thousands to get a first good look at the Moon

March 25 2009: Tens of thousands of people across Britain should get their first view of the Moon through a telescope during next week’s ‘Spring Moonwatch’, which runs from 28th March to 5th April. Together with the Autumn and Schools Moonwatch weeks (which will take place in October and November), it is a key event in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) that celebrates the 400 years of astronomy since Galileo first used a telescope to look at the night sky.
Press Release: What Did Galileo Actually Do?

February 19 2009: What convinced Galileo 400 years ago that the Earth orbits the Sun and not vice-versa? How did one man make such a startling discovery, armed with just a 2-inch (5 cm) lens telescope? To mark the UK launch of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) in the UK, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have surveyed the UK public to ask what Galileo is remembered for... and most people don’t know.
Press Release: Thomas Harriot: A telescopic astronomer before Galileo

January 14 2009: This year the world celebrates the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), marking the 400th anniversary of the first drawings of celestial objects through a telescope. This first has long been attributed to Galileo Galilei, the Italian who went on to play a leading role in the 17th century scientific revolution. But astronomers and historians in the UK are keen to promote a lesser-known figure, English polymath Thomas Harriot, who made the first drawing of the Moon through a telescope several months earlier, in July 1609.

Press Release: Space and astronomy hit with pupils as 1000 schools get free telescopes

November 17 2008: From next year pupils in 1 in 4 secondary schools will get close up views of the Moon, planets and the stars, in one of the largest astronomy outreach projects ever seen in the UK. The Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have teamed up to give free telescopes to 1000 secondary schools from early in 2009.

Press Coverage: IYA2009 in the Media

13/12/2009 Sky News
Shooting Stars Set To Light Up UK Night Sky

More than 100 shooting stars per hour could streak across the sky overnight in one of the year's most dramatic meteor showers.

13/12/2009 BBC Online
Annual Geminids meteor shower lights up night sky

Skywatchers in the northern hemisphere have turned their heads upwards to see the annual Geminids meteor shower.

17/11/2009 Scottish Television Online
Patrick Moore takes me to the stars
The Write Factor: Galloway's new Dark Sky Park accolade has Lindsey Mason star-struck for Patrick Moore all over again

16/11/2009 ITN News
Forestry bosses reward for keeping public in dark
Galloway Forest Park has become the first Dark Sky Park in the UK, and only the fourth around the globe.

16/11/2009 Scottish Television
Astronomy honour for Scottish park
Galloway Forest Park awarded Dark Sky status as it has so little light pollution.

16/11/2009 The Daily Express
SCANNING the night sky for Orion's Belt, seeking out the Plough or locating the North Star is proving tricky for many of us. With light polluted skies hindering would-be stargazers, only 10 per cent of Britons can see the haze of the Milky Way from where they live. Amateur astronomers should head to Galloway Forest Park in southern Scotland, which has today been named one of the world’s best spots for stargazing.

16/11/2009 The Scotsman
It's the latest nightspot where all the stars go – the darkest place in UK
A SCOTTISH forest has become the first place in the UK to win a prestigious international award for the darkness of its skies.

16/11/2009 BBC Online Magazine
In praise of real darkness
A spot in Scotland has picked up an international award, confirming it as one of the best places for stargazing in the world. But what is the importance of being able to see the stars?

16/11/2009 The Daily Mail
It's all in the stars! Forest park in Scotland named one of the world's best for stargazing
By day, it is a huge area of dense woodland and rolling hills. But by night, the Galloway Forest Park in Scotland is alight with a plethora of stars.The park, in southern Scotland, has been recognised for its spectacular views and now named one of the best places in the world to stargaze.

16/11/2009 The Telegraph
Best places to see the night sky
Galloway Forest Park in Scotland has been highlighted as a Dark Sky Park with very little light pollution, and one of the best places to view the night sky in Britain. Here we suggest a few more places, both abroad and close to home, where you can see the galaxies above at their most dazzling.

16/11/2009 The Guardian
Astronomers name Scottish park one of world's best stargazing sites
Galloway Forest Park awarded 'dark skies' status and praised for accessibility to public

16/11/2009 BBC Online
Forest park given Dark Sky honour (2:02 video)
Galloway Forest Park has been officially unveiled as the first Dark Sky Park in the UK.

16/11/2009 BBC Online
Forest park given Dark Sky honour (video and text)
Galloway Forest Park has been officially unveiled as the first Dark Sky Park in the UK.

24/10/2009 The Times
Galloway Forest Park: one of the darkest places on the planet
At the end of a garden path, in a home-made observatory overlooking Wee Glenamour Loch, there is an air of expectancy among a gaggle of astronomers. Not because it’s a good night for stargazing. It’s not: the skies are leaden and the rain is falling in stair-rods. But here, on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park, locals are preparing to celebrate its recognition as a Dark-Sky Park, an award unique in Europe, that will rank this lonely corner of southwest Scotland alongside only two other areas in the world...

21/10/2009 The Independent
Black sky at night, stargazers' delight
Astronomers are waking up to the brilliant celestial views from the Galloway Forest Park...

17/10/2009 The Herald
Scots forest bids for first dark sky park outside USA
Stargazers could heading to a forest in the south-west of Scotland after it launched an attempt to become the first “dark sky park” outside the US.

16/10/2009 BBC Online
Forest pursues 'dark sky' status
A bid has been submitted to see a south of Scotland forest recognised as the first "dark sky park" outside the US.

15/10/2009 The Scotsman
Tourist park hopes to be named one of planet's true black spots
A SCOTTISH forest is one of two national parks competing to be named Europe's darkest spot.

12/10/2009 BBC Online
Mars is just around the corner
I have to share a picture with you. If features the UK planetary scientist Professor Colin Pillinger. Colin, you will remember, was behind the gallant effort to put a lander on the surface of the Red Planet late in 2003. I caught up with Colin the other evening at a new photographic exhibition, Explorers of the Universe, which is being displayed at the Royal Albert Hall.

09/10/2009 BBC Online
Cities in big Solar System model
Cities and towns in Scotland will be used to help represent planets and asteroids in a large-scale model of the Solar System.

29/08/2009 The Times
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Space is mindboggling, awesome and scary, as a new competition for astronomy photographer of the year shows. Prepare to be dazzled

28/08/2009, BBC Online
Staring at the night sky
Thousands of people in the UK regularly spend their evenings gazing up at the heavens through telescopes, picking out constellations or focusing on planets.

28/08/2009, BBC Online
Naked eye astronomy
Galileo first turned his telescope to the skies 400 years ago. But even those without fancy equipment can watch the stars - here are five notable formations to look for...

15/08/2009, Times Online
Science: Meteors
You don’t need a telescope to look for meteors, just crane your neck . . .

13/08/2009, The Telegraph
Night forays into the countryside
Moonlit strolls open up a whole new world and reveal our dark side

13/08/2009, BBC Online
Perseid meteor show reaches peak
Skygazers have observed a dazzling sky show, as the annual Perseid meteor shower reached its peak.

13/08/2009, The Sun
Meteors Dazzle Stargazers
Scores of amateur Brit astronomers gathered all over the country to witness the peak of the dazzling Perseid meteor shower.

12/08/2009, The Scotsman
Meteors to put on spectacular show as Earth passes comet’s path
A CELESTIAL light show is promised tonight – weather permitting – as the Earth ploughs through a thick cloud of comet dust.

12/08/2009, The Scotsman
Telescopes at the ready for year's greatest meteor show
SKYGAZERS are preparing for the high point of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The shower, which reaches its peak today, occurs when the Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. As this cometary "grit" strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, often creating streaks of light across the sky.

12/08/2009, Sky News
Magical Meteor Shower Lights Up The Sky
Stargazers are preparing for the second night of a meteor show in skies over the UK - as thousands discuss the spectacle on Twitter.

12/08/2009, The Herald
Scientists all a-twitter over meteor shower
BRITISH amateur astronomers were to lead the first global "Twitter Meteorwatch" as shooting stars were expected to light up the sky last night.

12/08/09, Channel 4 News
Shooting the stars on Twitter
Twitter and astronomy may not be a likely combination, but last night star gazers and social networkers pooled their skills to bring a spectacular meteor shower to a wider audience.

12/08/2009, The Times
The Perseid meteor shower: see a shooting star
Have you seen a shooting star? Tonight is one of the best nights of the year to see one, so if your parents will let you stay up late you can do some stargazing.

12/08/2009, The Times
Perseid 'tweeteors' knock Disney star Miley Cyrus off top slot
British astronomers who led the first global online meteor-watch announced with pride today that they had managed to displace Miley Cyrus as the "top trending topic" on Twitter.

12/08/2009, The Telegraph
Perseids 'meteor watch' knocks Disney star Miley Cyrus off Twitter top spot
The meteor watch Twitter campaign launched on the first night of the Perseids meteor shower was so successful it got more tweets than Disney teen star Miley Cyrus.

12/08/2009, The Guardian Science Blog
Perseids meteor shower: stargazers told to head north
Stargazers should head to the Midlands, the north of England and north-west Scotland for the best views of the annual Perseids meteor shower tonight.

11/08/2009, National Geographic
Perseids: Meteor Shower to Yield 80 Meteors an Hour?
The Perseid meteor shower will have to fight it out with a bright moon for visibility this year, but astronomers are still predicting a dazzling Perseids show.

11/08/2009, The LA Times
Perseid meteor shower 2009: Times to watch, places to go and a Twitter party
The annual Perseid meteor showers, which seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus, have been viewable to some extent since around July 17. But tonight, they are expected to be at their peak, with as many as 80 meteors streaking the sky hourly.

11/08/2009, The Belfast Telegraph
Catch up on meteors with Twitter
It has provided an annual light display for thousands of years and tomorrow it is being shown for the first time on Twitter as astronomers attempt to make it visible to a wider audience.

11/08/2009, The Metro
Shooting stars to lighten up Twitter
British amateur astronomers will lead the first global "Twitter Meteorwatch" as shooting stars light up the sky tonight.

11/08/2009, The Daily Mirror
Meteor shower set to light up night sky
The sky will be spectacularly lit up during the next two nights by the annual Perseid meteor shower. Up to 100 meteors an hour can be seen tonight and tomorrow night as the Earth moves through a comet dust cloud.

11/08/2009, ITN
Twitter's meteor shower party
One group of UK stargazers will be leading the first ever global 'Twitter Meteorwatch' overnight, as they observe a shooting star display.

11/08/2009, Daily Express,
Heavens Light Up for Shooting-Star Spectacular
ONE of the most spectacular meteor showers reaches its peak tonight and excited astronomers are planning to host the first worldwide shooting-star party on the internet.

11/08/2009, Channel 4 News
Shooting the stars on Twitter
Twitter and astronomy may not be a likely combination, but last night star gazers and social networkers pooled their skills to bring a spectacular meteor shower to a wider audience.

11/08/2009, The Independent
What a shower! Catch up on meteors with Twitter
It has provided an annual light display for thousands of years and tomorrow it is being shown for the first time on Twitter as astronomers attempt to make it visible to a wider audience.

10/08/2009, Scientific American
Twitter fans set for Perseid party
Stargazers around the world will join in the first cosmic party to watch meteors tonight, thanks to Twitter. Hundreds are linking up via the popular website to share the experience as nature puts on a spectacular, natural firework show called the Perseids. As many as 100 shooting stars an hour may be seen raining across the sky under ideal conditions during the night during the shower's peak.

10/08/2009, New Scientist
Perseid shower to produce 'shooting stars'

Sky watchers could catch a dazzling treat on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower.

10/08/2009, BBC Online
Stargazers in 'Twitter marathon'
Budding astronomers are being urged to take part in the first "Twitter Meteorwatch" by sending in their pictures of the Perseid meteor shower.

10/08/2009, Guardian Science Blog
Tweet a falling star: Live Perseid meteor shower updates on Twitter
Armchair stargazers will be able to watch the shooting stars live on their computer screens via the micro-blogging site

25/07/2009, BBC Radio 4's Today programme
The birth of astronomy as a modern science
It is 400 years since the Jacobean astronomer Thomas Harriot turned a newfangled invention, the telescope, to the heavens to observe and draw the moon. Science correspondent Tom Feilden reports on the celebrations to mark the event of what is widely regarded as the birth of astronomy as a modern science.

25/07/2009, The Guardian Editorial
In praise of... astronomers
They usually work alone, and in dark places, but they have lit up our universe. Skywatchers began as guardians of clock and calendar, compiled our tide tables and pioneered modern navigation. They devised instruments, invented the science of optics, and minted the mathematics to explain the phenomena they observed...

23/07/2009, The Telegraph
Exhibition of 400 year-old moon drawings
Drawings of the Moon made 400 years ago can be seen at London's Science Museum as part of a new exhibition on the history of astronomy.

23/07/2009, BBC Radio 4
Material World
400 years ago, Englishman Thomas Harriot was the first to draw a telescopically-enhanced map of the moon's surface. It is due to go on display as part of the Science Museum's Cosmos and Culture exhibition.

23/07/2009, The Economist
The solar eclipse in China
On July 22nd the moon’s shadow fell across China’s industrial heartland in the longest total solar eclipse the 21st century will witness. Never before have so many people lived under an eclipse’s path.

19/07/2009, The Guardian
Shakespeare to stargazing
Make the most of the long summer evenings with Annabelle Thorpe's pick of the best events

17/07/2009, The Guardian
Copernicus nominated for the select club of elemental scientists
The discoverers of element 112, the newest addition to the periodic table, want it named after the 15th century astronomer who had the audacity to suggest the Earth orbits the sun

15/0720/09, The Independent
Telescopes: From seas to space
Created 400 years ago, it's been used to explore the high seas – and the heavens. As a new exhibition opens celebrating the telescope, Steve Connor charts the story of the invention that brought space closer to Earth

09/07/2009, The List
We Are Astronomers
When it first opened in 1999, Our Dynamic Earth quickly became one of Edinburgh’s most exciting and imaginative visitor attractions. Ten years later, the technology used to explore the history of the earth still looks fresh and innovative. But even when you’re looking backwards you still have to move forwards. Which is why Our Dynamic Earth has enlisted the help of the Time Lord himself, David Tennant.

29/06/2009, The Belfast Telegraph
Carnival of colour parades through Belfast
Belfast was awash with colour on Saturday afternoon as the annual Belfast City Carnival weaved its way along the streets. As the theme this year tied in with the International Year of Astronomy, there were quite a few astronauts and aliens amongst the floats — not to mention at least one ‘Man in Black’ and a Cyberman.

18/06/2009, The Telegraph
Summer in the city: Belfast's best events
From flower workshops to country music, we round up Belfast's best summer events.

11/06/2009, The Scotsman
Dynamic Earth enters space race with new video dome
A NEW "video dome" allowing people to get a unique tour of space has been launched at Edinburgh's Our Dynamic Earth.
The new 360 degree full-dome film technology is being launched with screenings of a groundbreaking new film, We Are Astronomers, narrated by Doctor Who's David Tennant.

13/05/2009, Times Online
Further reading: the story of the telescope
"On January 15, 1996, the Universe grew by 40 billion galaxies,” Richard Panek writes in his informative and entertaining history of the telescope. Why? Because that was the day that the wonders of the Hubble Deep Field were revealed.

28/04/2009, BBC Online
Telescopes given 'go' for launch
Europe's Herschel and Planck telescopes will be launched on Thursday, 14 May.

23/04/2009, CBBC Newsround
We met the world's top astronomers!
Press Packers Niall, Laura, Joshua and Chloe have been studying astronomy, which is all about stars and planets, at school. On Wednesday they did a presentation in front of top scientists from around the globe.

15/04/2009, Times Online
Pick of the Week: Edinburgh International Science Festival
Science is boring, right? It’s all test tubes and complicated formulas. In the world of 24-hour celebrity news consumption, when we are told that every teenager dreams of becoming the next winner of X Factor, science is thought to be the preserve of geeks who love nothing better than to curl up in front of the television with a cup of hot chocolate and a Star Trek box set. When was the last time a scientist was photographed stumbling out of Mahiki at 3am?

27/03/2009, The Daily Mail
Telescopes set up across Britain as Moonwatch event aims to inspire a new generation of astronomers
The moon will give up her secrets to amateur astronomers all around Britain tomorrow night. This evening marks the start of a nine-day 'moonwatch' in which would-be Patrick Moores can uses suites of telescopes to examine the beauty of the moon.

27/03/2009, The Telegraph
Spring Moonwatch: I've promised my son the Moon
Tomorrow, I will be getting out my telescope for the first day of Spring Moonwatch. Not that I actually own a telescope – but as 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy, I'm planning to buy one, principally for my son.

26/03/2009, The Telegraph
Thousands to see Moon up close for first time
Organisers from the International Year of Astronomy 2009 have put together hundreds of events across the country to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of modern astronomy, when Galileo first glimpsed the moon through a telescope.

25/03/2009, The Herald
Two Scots landmarks named as world's first Dark Sky sites
From above, Scotland's central urban strip glows like a ragged magnesium belt with bright studs at Glasgow and Edinburgh. From below, the artificial lights create a hazy pink veil that obscures much of the starry night sky. However, outside the main cities, Scotland has some of the best areas of dark sky in western Europe, which offer spectacular views of the stars and planets, according to Dark Sky Scotland.

21/02/2009, BBC News Online
Northern groups look to the stars
A new astronomy club has been formed in the far north of Scotland in time to mark the International Year of Astronomy.

23/01/2009, The Guardian
Scientists to test DNA to find out if Galileo could really see stars

When he was buried - at the insistence of the Catholic church in unconsecrated ground - Galileo Galilei left behind at least two conundrums: how could a man with impaired eyesight have made the observations that revolutionised astronomy; and did his faulty vision alter what he saw and recorded?

22/01/2009, The Telegraph
Galileo's observations 'affected by' degenerative eyes
British and Italian scientists plan to exhume the body of the astronomer Galileo to determine whether a degenerative eye condition affected his observation of the planets.

14/01/2009, The Telegraph
Briton drew pictures of the moon before Galileo
Drawings of the moon completed by British cartographer Thomas Harriot and pre-dating Galileo are to go on public display.

12/02/2009, The Scotsman
Honda robot Asimo set to make appearance at science spectacular
THE world's most advanced humanoid robot is to make an appearance in the Capital later this year, as part of a 21st birthday programme for the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

07/01/2009, Times Online
Digital Choice: Telescope Night
The focal point of a night marking the first day of this International Year of Astronomy is Blast! (10pm), a Storyville film that turns the lens on a group of boffins aiming to do the same to the Universe.

14/01/2009, Channel 4 News
Englishman's 'moon maps' displayed
Drawings of the moon completed by a modest English cartographer and pre-dating Galileo are to go on public display, it was announced.

14/01/2009, BBC News Online
'English Galileo' maps on display
"Moon maps" created by a little-known Englishman 400 years ago are to go on display to mark the launch of the International Year of Astronomy...

03/01/2009, The Scotsman
2009 - the year of the big switch-off has arrived
A fifth of the world's population can no longer see the Milky Way with the naked eye due to artificial lights blocking out the view of the stars. This year, which is International Year of Astronomy, a new project is taking place to try to improve the visibility of the stars...

03/01/2009, BBC Radio 4, Today
Interview with Astronomer Royal Professor Lord Rees
2009 is the International Year of Astronomy. Astronomer Royal Professor Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, discusses the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of a telescope to study the stars...

24/12/2009, The Guardian
Scotland prepares to host Europe's first 'dark sky park'
From the car park in the foothills of the Range of the Awful Hand, it is a short walk to what may be the darkest place in the country. Drive up here after sunset and you are unlikely to set eyes on another soul, yet the site is famous among a small group of enthusiasts who come here in the black of night to stand, watch and wonder...

16/12/2008, The Guardian
Where to see the stars in the UK
It's the shortest day of the year on Sunday, but instead of being all down about it, look up. Dixe Wills finds 10 of the best stargazing spots...

13/12/2008, The Scotsman
Stars in their eyes
As we spin inexorably towards the International Year of Astronomy 2009, an initiative called Dark Sky Scotland is helping us make the most of the opportunities, despite the light pollution that ensures more than 80 per cent of Britain's population hardly know what a starry sky is...

17/11/2008, The Scotsman
Scots urged to see the light in campaign for 'dark sky parks'
SCOTLAND could become the first country in Europe to have internationally recognised "dark sky parks" where visitors could go to enjoy the full spectacle of the night sky...

16/11/2008, The Observer
Scotland sells star therapy to stressed out city dwellers
Scotland's landscape is among the most spectacular on Earth but now there are plans to promote not just the Highlands, but the sky above them as well...

12/10/2008, The Sunday Herald
Searching for stars? It's a stroll in the park
POPULATED BY dead-heads and delinquents, city parks in the wee small hours are no place for the sensitive. But that's about to change as Scotland becomes the first country in the world to rebrand its urban green areas, turning them into "dark-sky discovery sites" for stressed-out city dwellers to gaze at the stars.