ann20017 — Announcement

Projects Selected for National Outreach Coordinator Funding Scheme 2019/2020
14 May 2020
Projects Selected for National Outreach Coordinator Funding Scheme 2019/2020

The International Astronomical Union Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) is pleased to announce the selection of four projects in the first year of the IAU National Outreach Coordinator (NOC) Funding Scheme. Selected projects involve fifteen National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America and will focus on key areas of astronomy outreach, from raising awareness of dark skies to conducting outreach for underserved communities.

In 2020, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) allocated funding to the OAO to provide the IAU NOCs with a dedicated grant system to support their outreach initiatives. In this first year of the IAU NOC Funding Scheme, under the theme “We Must Preserve Earth, Our Only Home in the Universe”, the NOCs formed partnerships to present proposals for multi-national collaborations. In total, 39 country representatives submitted 19 proposals.

As the world struggles with confinement and isolation, the idea of international cooperation, which is embedded at the very core of the IAU mission, becomes more relevant than ever. To us, it is very rewarding to see this first round of projects financed by the IAU involving collaboration between NOCs from four different continents,” said the IAU General Secretary, Teresa Lago.

The four projects selected for awards from the IAU NOC Funding Scheme are: 

Reclaiming the Night

Reclaiming the Night, which involves the NOCs from Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Portugal and São Tomé and Príncipe, will address light pollution by engaging students and society at large in measuring and fighting light pollution. Involving Portuguese-speaking countries, the project highlights how the use of a common language can stimulate international cooperation and collaboration to raise awareness of the loss of our dark skies.

Dark Sky and Quiet Sky Astrotourism Outreach

Bringing together Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, Dark Sky and Quiet Sky Astrotourism Outreach will provide skills-based training for 20 trainees from East African countries. The trainees will then implement programmes related to astrotourism and dark skies for students and amateur astronomers in their nations.

Mobile Planetarium in Remote Areas

Mobile Planetarium in Remote Areas, a collaboration between the NOCs from the Netherlands and Namibia, will bring schoolchildren in remote areas and their parents and teachers into the immersive digital environment of a portable planetarium for the first time. The funding is a seed for the production of digital resources and lessons with the potential to bring similar projects to other regions.  


IslandAstroDiversity will reach underserved orphaned children in Indonesia and Sri Lanka through the implementation of astronomy outreach activities in orphanages. As agriculture is a key source of income for both island nations, and both are heavily affected by the effects of climate change, the activities will focus on seasons and climate change. Translated versions of low-cost adaptations of peer-reviewed activities will be created for use in the communities and beyond.

All NOCs involved in the funded projects are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in their countries and will only implement their projects on the ground when safety measures allow. Additionally, safe alternatives and ways to overcome potential implementation difficulties have been discussed with project leaders. “Owing to the current situation, the on-site visits will take place once all local safety measures allow, but this is not an impediment to completing our project, as we will be working on low-cost accessible resources and translations which will be available online in the near future to outreach practitioners, parents, students and teachers to use at home.,” said the NOC for Indonesia, Avivah Yamani. “We wanted the project to have a social relief component attached to it by delivering meals while implementing the activities. Many communities struggle with securing food, a situation that will become more pressing with economic hardships predicted as a consequence of the pandemic,” added the NOC for Sri Lanka, Thilina Heenatigala.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) is a joint project of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The mission of the OAO is to engage the public in astronomy through access to astronomical information and communication of the science of astronomy. This is implemented through a network of IAU National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) and the IAU’s engagement initiatives with the public. The work of the OAO is about building bridges between the IAU and the global astronomy community, and through international collaboration, to make astronomy accessible to all.



Lina Canas
International Outreach Coordinator, IAU OAO
Tel: +81-(0)422-34-3966

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement



Projects Selected for National Outreach Coordinator Funding Scheme 2019/2020