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International Year Of Astronomy In Full Swing

The UK and Ireland Node for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009-Ireland) is presenting an exciting and ambitious programme of events throughout 2009 across the whole island of Ireland. IYA2009-Ireland, led by Professor Michael Redfern (NUI Galway), Robert Hill (Northern Ireland Space Office) and Dr Miruna Popescu (Armagh Observatory), is supported by the Republic of Ireland's Discover Science and Engineering programme. During the year there will be many public stargazing events, organised in association with all of the Irish astronomical societies and clubs on the island; numerous public talks on astronomy; and many special educational events and exhibitions. These are aimed at people of all ages and abilities, and are designed to be of interest to everyone.

Among many highlights, the programme includes: 'From Earth to the Universe': an exhibition of some of the best astronomical images ever taken, displayed in non-traditional venues; '100 hours of astronomy': a round-the-clock, round-the-globe event on 2-5 April that includes live webcasts from research observatories and public observing events all around Ireland; 'Universe Awareness (UNAWE)': an international programme that exposes children in underprivileged environments to the beauty and vast scale of the Universe; and 'She is an astronomer' - a cornerstone that promotes gender equality in astronomy and science through a web platform where information about gender balance are collected.

The Armagh Planetarium and Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork will also host many events at their facilities and elsewhere. For more information about these activities, please check the IYA2009-Ireland website.

The science of astronomy was chosen as a theme for St. Patrick's day parades in all major cities of Ireland. In Dublin, the theme was 'The Sky's the Limit!'. There, over 675,000 people lined the Dublin streets and over six million were watching live on RTE or through the internet. Thousands of performers and characters joined together in a carnival of dancing and music as they wowed onlookers with uniquely commissioned pageants exploring the link between humanity, astronomy and space, accompanied by marching bands from Ireland and across the globe. The International Year of Astronomy 2009 was well branded along the length of the entire parade on billboards and in the pageants.

In Downpatrick, the highlight of the festival was the famous St. Patrick's Cross Community Carnival Parade, which for 2009 embraced the theme of 'The Sun, the Moon and the Stars'.

The Cork Parade, announced by Blackrock Castle Observatory in conjunction with the International Year of Astronomy 2009 in all television, radio and press coverage, saw over 65,000 people celebrating the theme of 'Cosmic Chaos'. Schools, community groups, voluntary and sporting organizations, musical and circus companies joined in the revelries in a riot of colour and astronomical performance. Rockets, robots and radio telescopes vied for space with stars and planets, cosmic serpents, the elements, scientists and lots of little green men. Cork welcomed Professor Michael Redfern, School of Physics, NUI Galway and Chair of the IYA2009-Ireland at the Cork St. Patrick's Day Parade dressed as Galileo Galilei.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Miruna Popescu at the Armagh Observatory, Tel: 028-3752-2928; e-mail: mdpat signarm.ac.uk.

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Last Revised: 2009 March 24th
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