2009 has been declared the International Year of Astronomy by the UN General Assembly in collaboration with the International Astronomical Union. ESA is participating in the opening ceremony taking place in Paris 15 and 16 January.
Launched under the theme, 'The Universe - yours to discover', IYA2009 involves more than one hundred countries, and will stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science.
The official opening ceremony takes place in Paris, 15-16 January 2009, under the aegis of the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Nobel Prize winners, scientists from all over the world and government ministers are attending this prestigious event.
On 16 January, Professor David Southwood, Director of ESA's Science and Robotic Exploration programme will present the future scientific missions currently being studied within the framework of ESA's Cosmic Vision.
Throughout the two days the general public can visit two scientific attractions that have been produced in cooperation with ESA: the Planck Dome exhibition and a travelling Herschel Discovery Truck.
Using images, videos and interactive games, visitors can discover two key ESA astronomy missions, Planck and Herschel, planned for launch in 2009. With their revolutionary instruments these two satellites will investigate how the first galaxies and stars formed and evolved and will give new insights as to the origins of the Universe.
Further details of the opening ceremony, the IYA 2009 and details of ESA's participation in IYA 2009 throughout the year can be found on the dedicated web sites linked on the right.