The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) has been launched by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) under the theme, "The Universe, yours to discover." Thousands of IYA2009 events are described at www.astronomy2009.org <http://www.astronomy2009.org/> . IYA 2009 is a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to society and culture with strong emphasis on education, public participation, and the involvement of young people. Representatives from more than 135 countries are already involved, forming the world's largest ever astronomy network, and supporting events at national, regional, and global levels. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has devoted millions of dollars to underwrite IYA 2009 activities and initiatives.
As is consistent with its historic commitment to ground-based astronomy, NSF's involvement in the Galileoscope Project <http://galileoscope.org/> . Galileoscope, an official cornerstone project of IYA 2009, is considerable. The Galileoscope will enable children to experience observation via a sophisticated yet affordable ($10/each) telescope. The Galileoscope creates a true-color corrected view through a high quality eyepiece in a telescope with a baffle design optimized for looking at bright objects like the Moon and planets. NSF has also contributed more than $2 million for the production and dissemination of "400 Years of the Telescope <http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org/> ," an interactive, multimedia project that will provide an integrated set of informal science learning experiences, enabling the public to participate in real and virtual telescope experiences, understand the far reaching advances that the telescope has made possible, and discover how technology, science, and society are interconnected.