Letters of Intent received in 2018

LoI 2020-2036
Non-GA Symposium: ‘Living skies’: astronomies, cultures and societies

Date: 16 April 2020 to 24 April 2020
Location: La Plata city, Pcia. de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact: Alejandro Martín López (astroamlopez@hotmail.com)
Coordinating division: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Other divisions: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Co-Chairs of SOC: Alejandro Martín López (CONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Sixto Giménez Benítez (Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)
Gudrun B. E. Wolfschmidt (Hamburg University)
Wayne Orchiston (University of Southern Queensland)
Clive Ruggles (University of Leicester)
Co-Chairs of LOC: Sixto Giménez Benítez (Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata)
Alejandro Martín López (CONICET-Universidad de Buenos Aires)



3)History of astronomy
4)Interculturality and astronomy education
5)Astronomical World Heritage
6)Development, astronomy and societies
7)Methods and theories for astronomy in culture



Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina (https://www.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/)

School for young researchers: April 16th to 18th, 2020
Main conference: April 20th to 24th, 2020

From the 1990s the term "astronomy in culture" was imposed on the academic world to name the interdisciplinary area that encompasses studies that seek to place astronomy as an integral part of the culture of diverse human societies. Characteristic branches of astronomy in culture are Archaeoastronomy, Ethnoastronomy and the History of Astronomy. These areas of study require real interdisciplinary work and are carried out by astronomers, anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, historians of science, sociologists, architects, topographers, geographers, etc.
In the world there are three major international professional associations that aim to promote these studies: the Société Européenne pour l'Astronomie dans la Culture (SEAC); the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC); and the Sociedad Interamericana de Astronomía en la Cultura (SIAC).
The "Oxford" conferences are the most important international meetings in the area of astronomy in culture. They originated in the meeting that took place in Oxford, England, in 1981. This meeting marked a turning point in this field of research, laying the methodological foundations of the interdisciplinary work of astronomy in culture and unifying criteria. After that conference, a series of meetings began to be held approximately every four years, which received the name of "Oxford Conferences" from that first. They have taken place in important research centers around the world: Oxford II in Mérida, Mexico, in 1986; Oxford III in St. Andrews, Scotland, in 1990; Oxford IV in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, in 1993; Oxford V in Santa Fe, USA, in 1996; Oxford VI in La Laguna, Spain, in 1999; Oxford VII in Flagstaff, USA, in 2004; Oxford VIII in Klaipėda, Lithuania, in 2007; Oxford IX in Lima, Peru, in 2011; Oxford X, in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2014; and Oxford XI in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 2017. The Oxford Conferences are promoted by the "International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture" (ISAAC).
The panorama of studies on astronomy in culture in Latin America has radically improved in the last twenty years, largely due to the formation in 2003 of the Sociedad interamericana de Astronomía en La Cultura, SIAC, (http://eacultural.fcaglp.unlp.edu.ar/RECIAC.html). The SIAC brings together about 85 members from 12 countries, from different disciplines. This society, in 2012, began the annual realization of a series of Conferences and Schools of astronomy in culture throughout the region.
The present proposal is to hold an international IAU symposium on astronomy in culture in April of the year 2020, in the Faculty of Astronomical and Geophysical Sciences at the University of La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. The five-day symposium will be preceded by a three-day school for young researchers, consisting of two series of short courses taught by specialists from around the world. This event has already been approved by the ISAAC as the XII Oxford Conference of Astronomy in Culture. The SIAC has also approved it as the IX School and VIII Inter-American Cultural Astronomy Conference. It will be the second Oxford conference held in South America and the first academic event held jointly by ISAAC and SIAC. It also will be the first conference held jointly by ISAAC, SIAC and the IAU.
The title of the symposium, "Living skies", indicates our central interest: to stimulate the study of the role of astronomy as an integral and significant part of the daily life of different human societies, and make people aware of the general relevance of astronomical knowledge. This title also aims to emphasize that astronomical systems and practices are not static: they change over time and are permanently in the process of construction. From this perspective, the symposium will seek to discuss mayor current issues for the professional astronomical community: world astronomical heritage, astronomical education and the link between astronomy and development. The analysis of theoretical and methodological problems also will be emphasized.
The symposium, following the tradition of the "Oxford" conferences, will have the format of a single session meeting, thus seeking exchange and debate among the various types of researches and approaches. The symposium will be preceded by a school for young researchers (who are finishing degree courses or carrying out postgraduate studies), between April 16th and 18th, 2020. The school will be free and will consist of two parallel series of short courses taught by specialists from around the world. The first series of courses will be aimed at those seeking to start in the field of research in cultural astronomy. The second series will focus on technical and methodological aspects for those who already have some training in the area. The idea of this school is to make the most of the unusual concentration of experts in the area at this time and to put students in touch with the best developments in this area. In addition to the school for young researchers, it is planned to hold workshops for teachers, and especially teachers seeking to link cultural astronomy and astronomical education in a practical and concrete way.
During these academic events, lectures and activities will be held for all audiences to present astronomy as part of culture.
The city of La Plata, where the event will take place, is a beautiful and very special example of rationalist urbanism at the end of the 19th century. It is the capital of the Province of Buenos Aires and is only 55 km away by highway from the City of Buenos Aires. The city has a lot of parks, and is very famous for its trees. It was founded in 1882, and was totally designed from scratch, with a very particular geometry. La Plata has beautiful examples of the architecture by Pedro Benoit of the end of the 19th century. It is the fourth city in population in Argentina (700.000). Since its foundation it has been a university city, which is why it is called “The Athens of America”.
In a large park, “El Bosque”, there are two important academic institutions founded in the decade of the 1880s: The Museum of Natural Sciences and the Observatory. The Observatory, today Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, is a very active academic institution, located in a wonderful landscape. The first research group in Cultural Astronomy in Argentina was created in the Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas in the city of La Plata. The symposium will take place in this institution. The faculty has all the necessary facilities for its development. Among other things, it has a digital planetarium for 175 spectators. Furthermore, next to this institution there are other faculties with many students who have shown interest in the field of cultural astronomy.
The proposed editors of the Symposium Proceedings will be:

Alejandro Martín López
Coleta Palacios 2087, Moreno (CP 1744), Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sixto Giménez Benítez
Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas
Paseo del Bosque s/n, B1900FWA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Wayne Orchiston
University of Southern Queensland
Astrophysics Group
Toowoomba 4350
Queensland (QLD)

Gudrun B. E. Wolfschmidt
Hamburg University, Center for history of science and technology
Department of Physics, Hamburg Observatory
Bundesstr 55 Geomatikum
D-20146 Hamburg

Clive Ruggles
University of Leicester
School of Archaeology and Ancient History
University Road
Leicester LE1 7RH
United Kingdom