Japan celebrates a year of Cosmic Light

On January 11 2016, the Japanese closing ceremony of the International Year of Light 2015 – Cosmic Light was held at the Tokyo University of Science Morito Memorial Hall co-hosted by the Japanese Society for Education and Popularization of Astronomy (JSEPA) and Office for Astronomy Outreach, International Astronomical Union (IAU OAO). In this overview symposium, a set of nearly 40 groups and different activities were gathered, and almost a hundred participants summarised the IYL 2015 Japanese efforts in the astronomy field, focusing on education and new nationwide outreach initiatives.

Japanese astronomy outreach activities throughout 2015 – a fusion between pop art and science. Credit: Japanese Amateur Astronomers Association (JAAA) and Shiga Kogen Roman Museum.
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Japanese astronomy outreach activities throughout 2015 – a fusion between pop art and science. Credit: Japanese Amateur Astronomers Association (JAAA) and Shiga Kogen Roman Museum.

Sze-leung Cheung, the international coordinator of the IAU's Cosmic Light IYL 2015 programme, reported the yearlong perks and challenges faced by the Cosmic Light initiative. In his presentation, he also focused on the legacy beyond IYL 2015 / Cosmic Light – continuing to protect the quality of dark skies in years to come.

Former International Astronomical Union president, Norio Kaifu, presenting the concluding remarks of the ceremony. Credit: Hiroshi Kobayashi.
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Former International Astronomical Union president, Norio Kaifu, presenting the concluding remarks of the ceremony. Credit: Hiroshi Kobayashi.

Cosmic Light and the preservations of the night sky programmes had a great impact in Japan.  Historically, Japan has been linked to fighting light pollution since the early 70’s - one of the world’s first countries to address this issue. In this symposium a lot of activities related to light pollution were reported, such as light down event, monitoring night sky brightness and smartphone application to make light pollution map. The other trend was that some activities were imaginative collaboration programmes between astronomy and art such as anime, handcrafted resources for visually impaired audiences, photo travelling exhibitions

After presentations the participants had the chance, through a panel of discussion, to exchange their views on the future of the dissemination astronomy educational and outreach activities. They shared the importance of collaboration each other for presenting accurate information of astronomy and coordinating activities for the solar eclipse this year and Mars closest approaches in 2018 and 2020. The former president of IAU, Norio Kaifu concluded “In Japan the activities of astronomy outreach is becoming more variety in terms of people, and each of activities is very unique and high level. Moreover, nationwide organizations of planetariums, public observatories, armatures, and professional astronomers are well collaborating.” He also expected that the collaboration with the other fields would be developed.

About IAU IYL 2015 Cosmic Light Programme

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) recognize the importance of light for astronomy and supports that technology in the achievement of greater energy efficiency, in particular by limiting energy waste, and in the reduction of light pollution, which is key to the preservation of dark skies. The IAU is therefore a supporter of the IYL 2015.

The IAU IYL 2015 Cosmic Light Programme Cornerstone Projects are: Cosmic Light Awareness, Light: Beyond the Bulb and Galileoscope.

About IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) is IAU's hub for coordinating its public outreach activities around the world. The aim is to build networks to support and disseminate information to the amateur astronomy and public outreach communities, and to ultimately make it easier for the public to access information about the Universe. The Office for Astronomy Outreach is based in the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo.

About Japanese Society for Education and Popularization of Astronomy (JSEPA)

The Japanese Society for Education and Popularization of Astronomy (JSEPA) was established in 1989. It consists of more than 600 people who are interested in astronomy education and popularization with diverse background: professional astronomers, school teachers, educators and curators at science museums, planetarians, amateur astronomers, and so on.

About IYL 2015

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015—from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.  The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

The Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the European Physical Society (EPS), the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), Light: Science and Applications, the lightsources.org International Network, 1001 Inventions, The Optical Society (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). 

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, Thorlabs and UL.

Contacts

Lina Canas
Assistant Outreach Coordinator
International Astronomical Union Office for Astronomy Outreach
lina.canas@iau.org

Yukiko Shibata
Public Outreach Official
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan / International Astronomical Union Office for Astronomy Outreach
shibata.yukiko@nao.ac.jp

Kumiko Usuda-Sato
Research Expert
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Chief of Web Committee Japanese Society for Education and Popularization of Astronomy
kumiko.usuda@nao.ac.jp

John Dudley
Steering Committee Chair
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015
john.dudley@univ-fcomte.fr

Joe Niemela
Global Coordinator (IYL Secretariat)
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015
light2015@ictp.it