The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) is a global celebration of astronomy and its contribution to society and culture, with strong emphasis on education, public participation, and the involvement of young people, and with events at national, regional, and global levels. Many thousands of individuals in over 135 countries around the world are already involved, forming the world's largest ever astronomy network.

IYA2009 portrays astronomy as a peaceful global scientific endeavour that unites astronomers in an international, multicultural family of scientists, working together to find answers to some of the most fundamental questions that humankind has ever asked.

Held at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris (Room I) the official Opening Ceremony is the formal beginning of IYA2009, a year full of astronomy themed activities and events. It is a golden opportunity to get an overview of the most important initiatives occurring during the Year, including the 11 Cornerstone Projects. IYA2009 stakeholders will be present, such as heads of national committees, and chairs of global and special projects.

The Ceremony boasts high profile events, speakers, and, of course, the attention-grabbing nature of astronomy. Examples from the programme include an opening by UNESCO Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, talks by ministers of research, an IYA2009 overview from the International Astronomical Union President Catherine Cesarsky, talks by Nobel Laureates Bob Wilson and Baruch Blumberg, a presentation by Lord Martin Rees, live video conferences with ESO's Very Large Telescope on Paranal, the South Pole Station and the Very Long Baseline Interferometry array, a film on Gustav Holst, The Planets, from the Adler Planetarium's José Francisco Salgado, and many exhibits from well-known science institutions who support IYA2009.

If you'd like media accreditation to go:
Isabelle Cassandre Le Fournis 
E-mail: i.le-fournisatunescodotorg (replace at and dot with you know whats)

A live web cast will be available from 15 January at