Friday, June 25, 2010

Indonesia - International Year of Astronomy 2009

The United Nations officially declared the International Year of Astronomy 2009 on December 20, 2007. Initiated by International Astronomical Union (IAU) and UNESCO, this resolution was aimed at commemorating the 400th years of telescope usage in the field of astronomy pioneered by Galileo Galilei. Not less than 137 countries celebrate this event with the theme of "the Universe, yours to discover".
The major goals of International Year of Astronomy 2009 are to increase scientific awareness; promote widespread access to new knowledge and observing experiences; empower astronomical communities in developing countries; support and improve formal and informal science education; provide a modern image of science and scientist; facilate new networks and strengthen existing ones; improve the gender-balanced representation of scientist at all levels and promote greater involvement by underrepresented minorities in scientific and engineering careers; facilate the preservation and protection of the world's cultural and natural heritage of dark skies in places suchs as urban oases, national parks and astronomical sites.
One of the main agendas of the event in Indonesia was the stamp series "The Year of International Astronomy 2009" issuance on May 2, 2009. The stamp design depicts the image of Galileo Galilei, Galilean telescope as well as the official event logo. The stamps were issued in se-tennant format. As a background, the sheet shows Omega Centauri galaxy. Galileo Galilei (February 15, 1564 - January 8, 1642) was an Italian physician, mathematician as well as philosopher known as "father of modern science". His observations have brought fundamental discoveries in the field of astronomy that brought about a revolutionary paradigm shift in viewing the universe. The Jupiter moons discovery has challenged previously accepted concept of geometrics. Then, the planet movement theory became crucial milestone for Isaac Newton's mechanical theory.
The original telescope designed by Galileo in 1609 was commonly called as Galilean telescope. It used a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece lens. This telescope produced upright images and could magnify objects about 30 times. Galilean telescope could view the phases of Venus, craters on the moon and the moons orbiting Jupiter.
Omega Centauri is a ball shaped cluster of stars located at Centaurus constellation. Edmond Halley considered it as a nebula in 1677. Yet in 1830, John William Herschel, a British astronomer, regarded it as a ball shaped cluster of stars. Omega Centauri is one of ball shaped clusters that can be seen through naked eyes. This brightest and biggest cluster of stars in our Galaxy consists of approximately 10 million stars with 17.000 light year (1 light year = ~ 9,5 x 1012 km) length distance from earth. This fabulous First Day Cover was sent to me by my friend Nina.

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