A Common Heritage
The Right to Starlight

International Initiative in Defence of the Quality of the Night Sky as Mankind’s Scientific, Cultural and Environmental Right
Galaxy M51 - William Hercshel ORM


Starlight at the IYA2009
Opening Ceremony

UNESCO - 15-16 January 2009, Paris.

Jean Michel Jarre, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Chairman of the IYA 2009 Opening Ceremony together with Francisco Sánchez, Director of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, promoting the Declaration in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight. From left to right: Garik Israelian (IAC), Francisco Sánchez, Juan Michel Jarre, Cipriano Marín (Starlight Initiative).

New Zealand Delegation. Promoting Lake Tekapo / Aoraki Mount Cook Region as a World Heritage Starlight Reserve.

Panellists of the "Environmental issues - Dark Skies " session of the Symposium 260 IAU-UNESCO "The Rôle of Astronomy in Society and Culture", held on 19-23 January in Paris. From left to right: Martin MORGAN-TAYLOR (UK) , Andrej MOHAR (Slovenia), Richard WAINSCOAT (USA), Cipriano MARIN (Spain), Friedel PAS (Belgium), Francois COLAS (France).

Anna Sidorenko-Dulom, coordinator of the thematic initiative "Astronomy and World Heritage".


Exhibition IAC (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias)
IYA 2009- Opening Ceremony -- UNESCO

Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias




Opening Ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy.
UNESCO, Paris.

2009 has been declared International Year of Astronomy by the General Assembly of the UN (United Nations Organization). The Opening ceremony of the International Year of Astronomy was held in Paris, January 15-16, 2009, under the aegis of the UN, the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), the IAU (International Astronomical Union). It is also supported by a number of sponsors including French and international organizations and institutions . About 900 persons participated, among them eminent scientists (including Nobel Prize winners), and also about 100 young students from over 100 countries, participating to the International Year IYA2009.

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  The First Astronomers:
Astronomy Over Four Millenia

Presentation of Juan Antonio Belmonte

What do the prehistoric dolmens of the Iberian Peninsula, the cyclopean constructions of the ancient Mediterranean islands, the moai of Easter Island or the Egyptian pyramids have in common? Undoubtedly, they all are magnificent structures built with gigantic stones, but they are also linked by the long-term aim of their constructors for a correct orientation in time and space. Astronomy was the simplest tool to achieve that purpose. In our short presentation, we will provide a few sketches of how humanity has looked at the sky for thousands of years to create calendars or to orient sacred buildings appropriately, in an ongoing search for the metaphysical aspects of life, death and renewal.
  From ancient to modern: the role of astronomy as a cultural experience.
By Margaret Austin

Presentation at the International Year of Astronomy. Launch at UNESCO Paris 15 – 16 January and 19 – 23 January 2009.
Article Starlight Declaration