Seed Grants
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 09:51

In April 2009 the IAU and UNESCO, through the IYA2009 secretariat, provided funding to support IYA2009 related projects and activities in developing regions – essentially small grants that would be used to “seed” astronomy projects in target countries. A call for proposals was sent out to Single Points of Contact around the world via the DAG cornerstone. There were 38 applicants who responded. The selection committee, comprising the DAG task group and vetted by the IAU Executive Committee Working Group on IYA2009, waded through an impressive list of quality proposals that included such projects as astronomy education workshops for teachers, the recording and preservation of indigenous astronomy knowledge, the production of school astronomy education resources in local languages and many more. Twelve proposals were eventually selected from the following countries; Macedonia, Nepal, Uganda, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Rwanda, Uruguay and Tajikistan. Selections were made based on project alignment with the IYA2009 goals, more specifically the DAG goals, and on needs as indicated by the Global Astronomy Survey. In December 2009, following additional funding being received, four additional Seed Grants were awarded to Ghana, Trinidad-and-Tobago, Mozambique and Pakistan. This brings the total number of grants up to 16. Some of these projects were delayed for various reasons and are still underway with reports pending. Completed reports, summaries and updates are available below.

Original call for proposals:

Call For Proposals and Project Brief
Application Form



Press Release

In April 2009 the IAU and UNESCO provided funding to support IYA2009 related projects and activities in developing regions. A call for proposals was sent out to Single Points of Contact around the world via the Developing Astronomy Globally cornerstone. The aim was to provide seed funding and basic support to stimulate astronomy activities in developing regions.
The response was overwhelming. There were 38 applicants who responded to this call. The selection committee waded through an impressive list of quality proposals that included astronomy education workshops for teachers, the recording and preservation of indigenous astronomy knowledge, the production of school astronomy education resources in local languages and many more.
Twelve proposals were selected from the following countries; Macedonia, Nepal, Uganda, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Gabon, Rwanda, Uruguay, Tajikistan. Selections were made based on project alignment with the IYA2009 goals, more specifically the Developing Astronomy Globally goals, and based on needs as indicated by the Global Astronomy Survey.
The Global Astronomy Survey is a survey conducted under the Developing Astronomy Globally cornerstone. It aims to gauge the status of astronomy activities in developing countries and act as a baseline with which to measure astronomy development in these countries into the future.
Further information on the Developing Astronomy Globally cornerstone and on the Global Astronomy Survey can be found on the Developing Astronomy Globally website

Update December 2009: 5 Additional Seed Grants have been awarded to Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique, Pakistan and Tanzania. This brings the total number of grants up to 17.


Project Reports



The organization of a mobile astronomical observatory in demote regions of Tajikistan. A group of astronomers with small telescopes, computer techniques and illustrative materials will go to cities of Tajikistan and will caryy out lectures for teachers, students, pupils and the general public on astronomical themes. At universities and some large schools seminars and debates about an origin of planets, comets, asteroids, meteors, stars, galaxies and the Universe will be organized, and the purposes and challenges of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) will be explained. The general public will be allowed the opportunity to see with their own eyes through a small telescope the Moon surface, a planet and its satellites, stars and galaxies. Assistance will also be provided help teachers to teach astronomy in the classroom.

Tajikistan Report


This project is forms an integral part in the spread of Astronomy and Astrophysics topics developed by Astronomical Observatory of UNAN- Managua. We receive 3 schools per week and they arrive in groups of 50 students and 3 responsible teachers. During the visit, students and teachers receive conferences about Astronomy and Astrophysics as well as academic exercises and telescope observations.

Nicaragua Report


A workshop titled “Empowering astronomical communities in Mongolia” will be organised to strengthen and create an astronomy network including scientists, government officials and herders from nomadic life in Mongolia. Nomadic people and herders who live in the remote countryside where the skies are very dark and unpolluted have a good opportunity to use small telescopes. Herders from the nomadic lifestyle can benefit all year using small telescopes to attract local and international tourists and amateur astronomers. In addition, this team has prior experience organising international astronomy workshops. During the proposed workshop we will share lessons learnt from the initiatives being developed in other countries. Participants will become aware of how different nations are responding for IYA2009 and will experience how astronomy can help their socioeconomic life. With this in mind, researchers from the National University of Mongolia are interested in organizing this workshop with funding provided by Developing Astronomy Globally. This funding will provide us basic support in order to stimulate astronomy activities in Mongolia.

Mongolia Report


In Uganda, Mbarara University of Science and Technology is spearheading the organisation of several events to mark the IYA2009. In Africa, the IYA2009 will be celebrated under the theme “Astronomy for Education”.

In this project we will target primary and secondary school children and the following activities will be organised:

1. School outreach will be organized to sensitize the primary and secondary school students about astronomy as a way of making the students rediscover their place in the universe and further underscore the importance of astronomy and the related basic sciences to society.

2. Essays and quizzes for primary and secondary school students on basic astronomical concepts and winners will be awarded simple motivational prizes.

3. Teachers will be encouraged in a similar way to develop models to explain astronomical concepts such as the solar system, the phases of the moon, solar and lunar eclipses, and many other astronomical phenomena which can be easily modeled within a limited resource environment.

4. A conference for secondary school students where lectures will be presented by locally invited speaker and the local team (200 students and 20 teachers from 20 secondary schools will be invited)

Uganda Report



This proposal is to support a first step in increasing astronomy and science visibility in Gabon, as well as highlighting the long astronomical tradition embedded in African philosophy. The two activities that will be supported with the requested funding are

1. Setting up an astronomy exhibition on astronomy and science coupled to relevant multimedia sessions in in a major cultural centre at Libreville

2. Running a mobile stargazing unit consisting of four telescopes, binoculars and solarscopes. The public will be drawn from the large Gabonese society with special emphasis on learners.students, women and leaders.


Gabon Report

Projects in progress :



In the context of the IYA2009, the Rwandan National committee for IYA2009 intends to make a substantial astronomy awareness throughout the year 2009, using public conferences at high schools and universities. It has been demonstrated that the observational aspect of astronomy offers a way to stimulate in young people the sense of wonder of about the components of the universe. This project aims to distribute 5 gallileoscopes to 5 best high schools and one amateur telescope to one the institution of higher learning in Rwanda.

Trough the telescopes students and teachers will have the opportunity at the first time to look at the Moon and to see the details of its mountains and craters. They will be also able to see Jupiter's cloud belts and its Galilean moons, Saturn's rings.

The telescope for amateurs will be handed to Kigali Institute of Education and will be used for training high teacher schools and for public demonstration and night sky observations.

These galileoscopes and the telescope for amateurs will be the key to pursuing an interest in astronomy in Rwanda even beyondIYA2009.

On top of this, we will use media and we will produce pamphlets and other astronomical resources to increase Astronomy awareness. We are initiating a research project to diagnostic how basic astronomy can be introduced in our curricula of Education.

Progress reports:

Rwanda Report July

Rwanda Report October



The project Astronomy caravan 2009 is a project that is supported by the Macedonian Astronomical Society that will be implemented by the Skopje Astronomical Society. The project is planned to be implemented during the year 2009 to promote the IYA spirit. The project is meant to be implemented on national level for the general public of Macedonia. This means that the Caravan will visit 5 of the biggest cities across Macedonia, where there is no astronomy clubs or any astronomy activities during IYA 2009.

In Macedonia there isn’t any professional or amateur observatories. Because of that there are very few chances for the public to see through telescopes or gain knowledge in astronomy. Our expirience tells us that if you provide direct or indirect contact with astronomy the public is generaly interested in what it sees and hears. Macedonia is still struggling with the transition process and the government can’t invest large sum of money to the non formal education sector. The Skopje Astronomical Society (SAS) thru the years tries to bring astronomy closer to the public, by using modest funds. So far SAS has organized free public observations for the interesting astronomy events like solar and lunar eclipses, observations of comets and observation of the Sun and sunspots, Moon and planets, but with lack of financials this is only provided for the people in Skopje.

Our goal with the Astronomy Caravan is to show the people the beauty of the night sky, thru public observations, lectures and a small astrophotography exhibition.


The main goal of this project is to uplift and promote the study of A&S and basic science subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematic with special focus on Astronomy) at regional as well as at national level in Nepal. Though the world is traversing through 21 century, Nepal is still lagging behind in A&S concepts. This project aspires to promote scientific subjects to encourage and enable younger generation, their guardian and community members to think objectively, logically and positively while solving problems faced by them and all of us all in our daily lives.  Scientific innovative ideas are essential for arriving at acceptable results amicably from conflictingly and contradictory situations. Enhancing A&S knowledge in schools would help to improve the all round development aspects of students and also of Nepalese society. The project would immensely contribute to uplift students’ creativity and practical knowledge in their respective fields of A&S. Furthermore, this project could dispel wide-spread superstitious beliefs that are deeply anchored in Nepalese society.

Nepal Report



To carry out a popularization programme aimed at creating greater awareness in astronomy and science in general for school children in the five south-east states of Nigeria. Research in Nigeria has shown that children and even adults enjoy watching astronomical objects even though there is a low level of astronomy education across the society.

We intend to achieve this through the purchase of a small telescope (Galieoscope), local fabrication of PVC rocket and rocket motors, mobile planetarium show as well as public talks.

The outreach program will involve training primary and secondary school children on

1. how to assemble and use a small telescope for observation

2. how to observe the night sky at any time of the year

3. how to make a PVC rocket and rocket motor

4. career advice via inspirational talks

5. mobile planetarium shows.


We plan to use the  grant  to buy  10 Galileo scopes  to be used for outreach activities and spend the rest of the money on outreach activities.

During outreach we shall conduct interviews amongst the Luo ethnic group of Kenya to find out their cultural knowledge of astronomy and how they have applied this knowledge in Agriculture:- weather / climate prediction

Prevention of Disease Outbreaks:- To determine when to administer herbal medicine to forestall outbreak of certain diseases

Other aspects of ethno-astronomy.

We shall conduct stargazing parties and video shows in four high schools and give three public lectures in market places to create awareness about IYA2009 and benefits of astronomy to society in general.  This opportunity will be used to create armature astronomy groups to carry on with the star gazing activities


The Astronomy Outreach Workshop for University Students (AOWUS) is a long-term program run by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS) with the aim to promote basic knowledge and observational experience of astronomy among undergraduate university youth. The program stresses the importance of creating and growing a community of informal astronomy educators at Space Science Clubs who can effectively conduct programs for their members and visitors. The program has been effective in the universities of Addis Ababa, Adama and Mekele. This proposal  is part of the AOWUS program and intends to undertake an outreach activity in three new public universities.

In this project, an ESSS team consisting of volunteer astronomy graduates and students will be involved in a training program. The team will deliver power-point presentations and other demonstrations and will also teach and demonstrate the use of telescopes. The students will be given training on how to use small telescopes at night to explore the sky. At the end of the workshop program, a group of students will be chosen to pursue the establishment of a Space Science Club in the university.

In the process of the short training, students will develop important skills, including logical reasoning, inquiry and collaboration. The main outcome of this workshop will be to equip more people to be able to do astronomy outreach and to enable those already doing it to share and collaborate. The impact of these activities is motivated and capable learners and an expanded team of people promoting astronomy.

Ethiopia Report



High school teachers, university students and amateur astronomers will bring Galileoscopes to schools. They will give some instructions on its use and describe some observational activities with practical experiences that can be done. Approximately 80 Galileoscopes will be bought with this grant and booklets with activities will be printed and distributed with the Galileoscopes. Addressees will be distributed all over the country.


A tour of villages and cities in Ghana with the mobile planetarium equipment already donated to the planetarium. Workshops in villages, planetarium shows, demonstrations, telescope viewing targeting schoolchildren, university students and adults in the wider community. We aim to reach 10-15 cities/villages i.e. two days in Kumasi (the second largest city in Ghana).

Trinidad and Tobago

This project centres around enabling the IYA2009 Coordinators and Partners in Trinidad and Tobago to execute basic outreach events in nearby, English-speaking, Caribbean islands where no Astronomy resources exist, in keeping with IYA2009 overall aims and objectives. To send a team of at least two persons to these territories for a minimum of two days and nights to a) conduct public astronomy talks during the day, b) host public observing sessions during the evenings and c) hold talks with interested parties with regard to creating interest groups that will facilitate further outreach activities in 2009 and beyond.


During IYA2009 we hope to reach further schools both locally and nationally as well as the general public and for this we require our own equipment, which will be used to go round locally and nationally to engage the public via star parties. These equipments will also serve as hands of experience for students taking the Introduction to Astronomy course at the University, which will be due to start in academic year 2011 at University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). We hope that the project will last for years while we develop astronomy in Mozambique.


The Khwarizmi Science Society (KSS) needs financial support to hold live astronomical exhibitions and observation sessions, “Astrofests” to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy (2009). These astrofests will be combined with live projected displays of microscopic organisms, thus connecting the macrocosm with the microcosm.

The funding will contribute to the cost of purchase of a telescope, microscope and also cover advertising costs of the events in local newspapers. As part of our IYA 2009 activities we are also compiling and seeking funds to publish a booklet on “Introduction to Astronomy” in Urdu language. Urdu is one of the world’s ten most spoken languages, with 250-300 million speakers worldwide.

The “Astrofests” or “Falakiyati melas” (in Urdu language) are held in the first half of the lunar month and combine a brief multimedia-enriched lecture on popular astronomy followed by public viewing of the sky through two telescopes. The telescope currently used is a 14-inch refractor Celestron C102 telescope that is privately owned by a member of the KSS. The smaller telescope is a Meade 8-inch reflector.

Projector screens are also set up to display live images from the telescope, through a CCD camera, to make viewing possible for everybody (attendance approaches 1000-1500 at these events). So far, seven Astrofests have been conducted with spectacular success.

The Urdu language booklet is meant to introduce an introductory level astronomy text that is accessible for the large majority of Pakistanis. There is a dearth of modern scientific publications in the Urdu language and this booklet would augment our efforts to get people involved and interested in astronomy.

The aim of the current project is to expand the program and hold them more frequently and at more locations including public places and historical sites (corresponding to the TWAN initiative) and to advertise these events fully in the local press to maximize participation. We are interested in using astronomy as a vehicle to promote science in youngsters and highlight the importance of historical conservation and wildlife protection by organizing the festivals at historical sites and natural parks.

We also want to add an exciting feature of using a microscope in conjunction with the telescopes, in an attempt to connect the two disparate scales of the universe – the micro and macrocosm.


Exposure to good equipment is quite often lacking in science teaching in Tanzania.  This project is intended to provide an equipment which  can be used both in science teaching as well as observe the stars and enable students to use it to whet their curiosity about the stars.  We intend to buy about three (3) good quality but reasonably priced telescopes which will be distributed to secondary schools that show the highest intiative in promoting fundamental science, mathematics and astronomy as determined from scores on these topics.  The publicity from this project will encourage other schools to purchase such telescopes.



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