Superintendent's Memo #032-09

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

February 13, 2009

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Virginia’s Involvement in the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009)

The International Astronomical Union and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have designated 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. This will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo.

It is anticipated that IYA2009 will stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science. Virginia will be participating in this celebration through the public school divisions by hosting a series of educational events and activities. In addition to Share the Skies, Virginia students will have the opportunity to participate in a number of activities throughout the year such as Globe at Night which is a dark skies awareness project that engages students in authentic research with citizen scientists from around the world. Additional information can be found at

Questions about Virginia’s participation in this celebration may be directed to Julie Mersiowsky, educational technology specialist, via e-mail or 804-225-4387.