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Chandra In IYA2009

M. Watzke

February 5, 2009 ::

Painting of
Galileo Galilei by
Justus Sustermans,
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) was conceived to honor the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei in 1609, and has evolved into an extensive series of worldwide programs. Sponsored by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and endorsed by the U.S. House of Representatives, UNESCO and the United Nations, IYA2009 aims to stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science, especially among young people and underserved populations. More than 135 countries and agencies are participating in this important global event. IYA2009's purpose is about more than just celebrating astronomy's achievements during a single year: its goal is to build sustainable astronomy education and outreach programs and partnerships that will continue on into the future.

Trailer for IYA2009

Chandra is heavily involved with several IYA2009 activities (for a full list of US and international activities, see and Specifically, Chandra will be featured in the "100 Hours of Astronomy" webcast, "365 Days of Astronomy" podcasts, the Great Observatories image unveilings to museums, and more.

One of the IYA2009 efforts being led out of the Chandra X-ray Center is the "From Earth to the Universe" project. FETTU is a major project of both the US and global efforts for the IYA2009. With images taken from both ground- and space-based telescopes (including Chandra, of course), FETTU showcases the incredible variety of astronomical objects that are known to exist - planets, comets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, clusters, and more.

FETTU will be shown in non-traditional public venues such as parks and gardens, shopping malls, metro stations and airports in major cities across the world. The FETTU images have been selected for their stunning beauty to engage members of the general public who might normally ignore or avoid astronomy. With short, but informative captions on each panel, the goal is introduce some basics of the science once an individual has been drawn to the image.

In the US, FETTU is being sponsored by NASA and will appear in semi-permanent installations in Atlanta and Chicago later this spring. A traveling version of FETTU will begin in the Tucson airport in late February before moving to Memphis in April. Several editions of FETTU will be appearing in the San Francisco area beginning in May, thanks to NASA's Lunar Science Institute, and the NASA IYA Student Ambassador program is facilitating a FETTU exhibit in Madison, Wisc. More FETTU locations are being planned across the US and an enhanced schedule is being developed.

FETTU in Paris, France

With NASA support, FETTU panels for the visually impaired are being prepared. The caption material for all of the images in the US collection of 50 images is available in both English and Spanish.

"It's great to see FETTU taking shape in the United States thanks, in large part, to NASA," said Kim Kowal Arcand of the Chandra X-ray Center and principal investigator for the NASA FETTU grant. "It's also amazing to see how it has taken off around the world."

With 2009 underway, FETTU is already being showcased in a variety of formats -both physically and digitally - in over 40 countries around the globe. These worldwide exhibits have been funded through a variety of local resources and are organized by each individual location. For a full list of known FETTU exhibits - both in the US and internationally -- visit

While there is only one official year to celebrate astronomy, the goal is that the impact of FETTU and all of the other IYA2009 activities will extend far beyond that. By exposing the public to the wonders that Chandra and other telescopes have discovered, the hope is that it will create a lasting impression and generate further interest in astronomy and all science.

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