First OAE Center founded in Italy

Published: 15th March 2021 12:00 (UTC)

The IAU is delighted to announce the founding of a new Center in Italy which will support the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE). The OAE Center Italy is the exciting first step towards an extensive network of OAE Centers, and smaller institutions called OAE Nodes, to be set up across the world. This Center is a collaboration between the IAU, the OAE and the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), Italy’s national Center for astrophysics. INAF is a well-established partner of the IAU, having hosted the first non-English edition of the IAU astroEDU platform since 2017.

IAU General Secretary Teresa Lago welcomed the announcement, saying, “It is great to see the emergence of the global network of OAE Centers and OAE Nodes that are essential to the fulfillment of the ambitious goal set for the OAE in the IAU 2020–2030 Strategic Plan.”

The OAE was originally launched by the IAU in December 2019 with a mission to leverage astronomy — as a science with near-universal appeal — to improve education worldwide, particularly in the increasingly important subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. With the main office based at the Haus der Astronomie in Heidelberg, Germany, there were plans for a wider network of supporting Centers from the beginning; the OAE’s mission resonates with many astronomers and astronomical institutions with shared goals.

OAE Director Markus Pössel said, “The mission of the IAU's Office of Astronomy for Education is ambitious — to use astronomy to promote school education worldwide! It is clear that we can only succeed with strong support, and I am glad that INAF is committed to this joint mission.”

OAE Centers and OAE Nodes will take part in and lead global projects of the OAE, as well as working regionally with countries in close proximity or with a common language. The OAE Center Italy will help to pioneer this system, playing a regional role in the Mediterranean and working with astronomy education communities and the OAE’s network of National Astronomy Education Coordinators nearby. The Center will also help to strengthen the OAE’s expertise in astronomy education for primary school pupils (children under the age of 12).

Coordinated by Stefano Sandrelli, INAF Milan, the OAE Center Italy will include staff members from INAF institutions in Milan, Bologna, Teramo and Rome, as well as from the Italian Astronomical Society based in Florence and the University of Rome Tor Vergata. Additional support will be provided by INAF institutions in Firenze, Padova and Cagliari. The IAU, OAE and INAF look forward to an exciting and fruitful collaboration.

President of INAF Marco Tavani said, “It is a pleasure and honour to host the first Center of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education network. We will have the opportunity to offer and learn a lot from our international partners, playing a leading role in educational innovation”.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together almost 12 000 active 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 of Astronomy for Education is hosted at Haus der Astronomie (HdA), managed by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The OAE’s mission is to support and coordinate astronomy education by astronomy researchers and educators, aimed at primary or secondary schools worldwide. HdA’s hosting the OAE was made possible through the support of the German foundations Klaus Tschira Stiftung and Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.


INAF Press release

IAU Press release

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Niall Deacon
OAE Main Office

Stefano Sandrelli
OAE Center Italy

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Director of Communications