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Informal Science Education Resources
from the home of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

International Year of Astronomy
Image Unveilings

Celebrate the International Year of Astronomy with Spectacular Images from NASA’s Great Observatories.

In recognition of the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first celestial observations, 2009 has been designated the International Year of Astronomy. To celebrate, NASA’s Great Observatories – the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-Ray Observatory – are collaborating to produce spectacular multi-wavelength views of our universe.

February marks Galileo’s Birthday!

Galileo was born on February 15, 1564. Over 100 U.S.-based science centers, museums, planetariums, nature centers and other informal education venues have been selected as sites for the national unveiling and display of a new multi-wavelength image in February 2009. These enthusiastic partners will hold an image unveiling event between February 10 and February 28, 2009 to help members of their local communities discover the universe for themselves, and will display the image prints for an extended period.

Representatives of NASA’s Great Observatories will show a “sneak-peak” of the image prints to members of the American Astronomical Society at their next scientific meeting, to be held January 4-8, 2009 in Long Beach, California. This event will help build awareness of your contributions to the International Year of Astronomy!

Information for participating institutions:

Institutions that are participating in the national unveiling were notified by electronic mail on November 14, 2008.

Click here for a list of the participating institutions.

Participating institutions will receive at no cost:

  • Two enormous prints that display multi-wavelength views of the spiral galaxy Messier 101 obtained by Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra. One print, 3 x 3 feet (exactly 36" x 36") in size, will display the combined Hubble-Spitzer-Chandra images. A second horizontal print, 3 x 6 feet (exactly 36" high x 72" long) in size, will be a triptych that displays the three high-resolution images from Hubble, Spitzer, and Chandra side by side and with description captions below. The prints will be participants’ to keep and display. The print material is Lightjet 500XL digital photographic print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper laminated with a 5 mil matte laminate on the face and backed with a 10 mil gloss laminate.
  • A scientific briefing teleconference with NASA scientists knowledgeable about the astronomy behind the images. This phone call is intended for science center, museum, and planetarium professionals only. The teleconference will provide you with additional information that you can use in communicating the science behind the images to your colleagues and audiences.
  • A teleconference briefing on educational resources and partners that can help you and your audiences discover the universe during the International Year of Astronomy.
  • Press kit materials (online) for your local media that will contain background information, image files, and selected multimedia resources.
  • Limited quantities of beautiful Hubble image lithographs for distribution to teachers.
  • Promotion of your exhibit/event on our HubbleSite public web site, which draws two million visitors a month and is the top site listed in Google searches for “Hubble.” The Great Observatories Image Unveiling will also be included on NASA’s International Year of Astronomy web site.

Terms that all institutions have agreed to:

  • Hold an image unveiling event in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Events must be held between February 14, 2009 and February 28, 2009.
  • Identify a permanent location for displaying the Hubble-Spitzer-Chandra image prints (e.g. a permanent exhibit gallery).
  • Provide a brief description of the event, including the number of participants to Space Telescope Science Institute – with photos if possible.
  • Honor the NASA press embargo. Images may not be displayed prior to the NASA press release.

We encourage events that provide opportunities for youth and adults to make their own observations of the universe, and that engage populations or communities that are traditionally underserved by or underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics learning opportunities.

Key dates:

If possible, we ask that participating institutions send a preliminary 25-word description of their event plans by December 12, 2008. This will allow us to share these unique ideas at the IYA opening events at the American Astronomical Society meeting. Send to: Lucy Albert

International Year of Astronomy Events at American Astronomical Society meeting: January 4-8, 2009

Teleconference briefings: 

Telecon #1 -- Logistics and Resources:     Thursday, December 18

Telecon #2 -- Science and Resources:    To be held between January 21 and January 29

Anticipated delivery date for prints: On or about January 30, 2009

Galileo’s Birthday: February 15, 2009

Partner events: February 10 – 28, 2009

Description of partner events due: March 16, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions:

We just learned about the event. Can we still sign up for prints?
No. The application process closed on October 31, 2008. We will be holding a second event later in 2009. Details will be announced in 2009.
We missed the deadline. May we make our own prints?
Yes. High-resolution image files will be available through the Hubble Source web site after the NASA press embargo is lifted, on or about February 16, 2009. Your institution may download and print the files at its own expense.
Where can I learn more about the International Year of Astronomy?
For the latest on international, national, and NASA plans for the International Year of Astronomy, please visit the following web sites:

About Us

The International Year of Astronomy Great Observatories Image Unveiling is made possible by special funding from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The project is a collaboration between the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Spitzer Science Center, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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