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

International Year of Astronomy
Image Unveilings

Logo for IYA 2009

November, 2009 Events

In November 2009, IYA unveiling events were hosted at 152 science centers, museums, libraries and schools, in large cities and small towns across the U.S. Based on feedback from the participating institutions, over 23,000 people attended these events.

Many of the events created or strengthened partnerships, often between libraries and local K-12 schools, but also between universities, science centers, planetariums, NASA, and others. A number of the institutions expressed a great appreciation for the new collaborations they had forged, and expect to continue those in the future. Some institutions reported that the attendance figures were much higher than expected, often at capacity, indicating a strong community interest in the event. Several schools have already used the IYA images during Space and Earth Science classes. Other involvement in the community, such as participation by local businesses, scheduling the unveiling during a town-wide event (such as an “art walk”), or including the unveiling in non-traditional, creative programming (such as a blues concert) increased science awareness in the community.

See photos of the events here.

Note: See the list of participating institutions here.

If your organization was not selected, or did not submit an application, see answer to FAQ "If my institution is not selected, can we make our own prints?" below.

Celebrate the Culmination of the International Year of Astronomy with More Spectacular Images from NASA’s Great Observatories!

In recognition of the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first celestial observations, 2009 was designated the International Year of Astronomy. To celebrate, NASA’s Great Observatories – the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-Ray Observatory – again collaborated to produce another spectacular multiwavelength view of our universe.

Four Hundred Years of Discovery!

We invited U.S.-based science centers, museums, planetariums, nature centers and other informal education venues to apply for selection as a site for a national unveiling and display of a new multiwavelength image in November 2009. We were looking for enthusiastic partners to hold an image unveiling event between November 10 and November 30, 2009, to help members of their local communities discover the universe for themselves, and that would display the image prints for an extended period.

The new image, and a summary of the public events held during its unveiling, was presented at the AAS (American Astronomical Society) meeting in January 2010 in Washington, D.C.

Selected institutions received at no cost:

  • Two enormous prints that display multiwavelength views of the cosmos obtained by Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra. One print will display the combined Hubble-Spitzer-Chandra images. A second print will display the three high-resolution images from Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra side by side. The prints will be yours to keep and display.
  • A scientific briefing teleconference with NASA scientists knowledgeable about the astronomy behind the images.
  • 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.

To apply:

Note: The application deadline was 5pm EST on August 5, 2009. Applications are no longer being accepted.

Prints will be available to 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organizations located in the United States, including all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. We anticipate selecting partner institutions from eligible applications received by July 31, 2009, on a first-come, first-served basis. The Great Observatories Image Unveiling team is committed to bringing the wonders of the universe to learners of all ages and backgrounds during 2009, in support of U.S. and NASA goals for the International Year of Astronomy. The team will therefore consider application submission date, geographic location and potential for reaching diverse audiences in selecting partners. Potential for reaching diverse audiences will be determined from data on population size and income, as obtained from the U.S. census.


All institutions agreed to:

  • Hold an image unveiling event in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Events were to be held between November 10, 2009, and November 30, 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 (easy-to-fill-out form was provided), including the number of participants, to Space Telescope Science Institute — with photos if possible. This description is invaluable, allowing us to communicate the impact of the project to NASA.
  • Honor the NASA press embargo. Images were not to be displayed prior to the NASA press release..

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

February 2009 Unveiling

See photos from select institutions that participated in the February 2009 Unveiling event.

Key dates:

Application deadline: August 5, 2009 PAST

Notification of selected partners: On or about August 14, 2009 PAST

Orientation (general) Teleconference briefing: Sept. 22, 2:00 EDT PAST

Science (content) Teleconference briefing: October 6, 2:00 EDT PAST

Anticipated delivery date for prints: On or about October 23, 2009 PAST

Partner events: November 10 - 30, 2009 PAST

Description of partner events due: December 7, 2009 PAST

American Astronomical Society meeting: January 3 - 7, 2010 PAST

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which celestial object will be featured in the prints?
The Great Observatories Image Unveiling team has now selected the featured image! The Galactic Center reveals amazing activity when viewed across the electromagnetic spectrum. If you think you know what our Milky Way’s core looks like, prepare to be surprised!
How large are the prints?
The two prints that we provide to the community for image unveiling events are 36" high, 72" wide for one image; and 48" high, 36" wide for the second.
What material will be used to create the prints?
The two prints are Lightjet print on 5/10 matte laminate (with plain glossy laminate backing). NOTE: the material is stiff but flexible; handle with care to prevent creases which will be permanent.
When will the prints be shipped?
The prints will ship October 15-16; they should arrive the week of Oct. 19. They will be shipped rolled together in a round carton.
Can the public listen in on the two telecons?
No. The two teleconferences are for staff only. These teleconferences are designed to provide staff at your institution with an opportunity to ask questions and to receive information that will help your institution prepare for its unveiling event. Information shared on these teleconferences is subject to the press embargo.
How many institutions will be selected?
152 institutions will be participating in this event, up from 116 who participated in our last event. (The total number of participating institutions is constrained by project costs and available funding.) Click here for the List of Participants.
My institution is located outside the United States.  Are we eligible to apply?
Institutions located outside of the United States are not eligible to apply.  High-resolution image files will be available through the Hubble Source web site.  Institutions located outside the U.S. can download and print the files at their own expense.
How will we find out if we have been selected?
Notifications will be sent via electronic mail on or about August 14, 2009. The list of participating institutions has been posted since August 19, 2009.
If my institution is not selected, can we make our own prints?
Yes. High-resolution image files will be available on or about November 10, 2009, through the HubbleSource Web site. Your institution can 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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