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The IYA 2009 Grand Opening
14-15 January 2009,
Paris, France

The Press Communiqué in Arabic & French
- The Opening of the IYA2009 in Arabic
- Diaporama of the Opening Ceremony & IAU260 Seminar
- The Harvest of IYA-2009: Boosting Astronomy in Algeria

The opening of the International Astronomy Year 2009 took place at the UNESCO center at Paris during the 14-15 January 2009. Algeria was well represented by four professional astronomers, two of them from Algiers and Constantine, two from the diaspora, and one graduate student in Astronomy. In the following IAU 260 seminar devoted to Astronomy and Culture, four talks were given and one exposition was on display representing contributions of amateur astronomy in Algeria. In addition a talk was given by the President of the Sirius Astronomy Association at the French Senate at the Luxembourg Palace. This talk which was given to a prestigious audience of academics, journalists and a selected public was part of a day long Seminar within the"Citoyens du Ciel" program organized by the French Astronomical Society (SAF).

In French Briefly

Le lancement de l'Année Mondiale de l'Astronomie 2009 à Paris s'est déroulé avec faste au siège de l'UNESCO à Paris ces 15 et 16 Janvier. Etaient présents à cette cérémonie officielle quelque 400 invités, personnalités scientifiques et du monde de l'Astronomie, une brochée de prix Nobel, et des représentants de la plupart des pays du Monde. La délégation Algérienne, conduite par Dr.N.Seghouani du CRAAG et formée de quatre astronomes professionnels d'Algérie et de la diaspora, ainsi qu'un étudiant de l'Ecole Doctorale d'Astrophysique de Constantine, a dignement représentée l'Algérie. Elle a de plus présentée quatre communications et une exposition au Séminaire sur l'Astronomie et la Culture qui s'ensuivit, le plus grand nombre de communications parmi les pays en développement. Notons l'absence notoire des pays arabes dans cette manifestation d'envergure mondiale.

L'Astronomie Amateur Algérienne à l'honneur au Sénat Français
En marge de ces activités, et sur invitation de la Société Astronomique de France, une conférence fut donnée par le Prof.J.Mimouni de l'Université Mentouri de Constantine et président de l'Association Sirius d'Astronomie au Palais de Luxembourg, siège du Sénat Français, sur l'astronomie en Algérie dans le cadre d'une série de conférences donnée lors de l'exposition "Citoyens du Ciel". Devant un parterre constitué d'éminents scientifiques et astronomes, un tableau détaillé fut brossé de l'astronomie amateur dans notre pays, ses réalisations et ses ambitions.

Pictures of the Opening Ceremony from Paris
(Pictures taken by Nassim & Hamid)

The large auditorium of UNESCO on D-day a short while before the effective opening.

The Opening ceremony took place on January 13, in the presence of some 400 guests, the permanent representatives of the various UN countries and countless journalists. The Opening Panel included Mr.Koichiro Matsuura, the UNESCO's General Director, Mrs. Cezarski, the Head of the International Astronomical Union, and several Ministers from some EU countries.

Here the Algerian delegates, from left to right Hamid Hamidani a Sirius member and graduate student at the Ecole Doctorale d'Astrophysique at Mentouri University, Prof.N.Guessoum at the American University, Sharjah, Dr.N.Seghouani from Algiers Observatory (CRAAG), and I.Fernini from El-Ain University at the Emirates, in addition to the photographer J.M. from Mentouri University at Constantine.

Here N.Seghouani the Algerian Spoc on the first day with an enigmatic smile on the face.


The lecture by Nassim on "Astronomy in Algeria" at the IAU symposium.

A talk on the by J.M. from Sirius in one of the sessions of IAU260 symposium: "Popularizing Science through Astronomy,
an Algerian Experience in Grassroot Activism and its Academic Spin-off

The student Hamid Hamidani from Algeria who was the representative for Algeria's youth. Here standing in front of his astrophysical poster.

Ilyes Fernini from El- Ain University lecturing

Entertaining visitors at the 'Algerian corner". Here the delegations from brotherly countries Bengladesh (F. R. Sarker and Dr. A.R.Khan), and Nigeria.

The Algerian Popular Astronomy stand. Taking Sirius as an example of amateur astronomy in Algeria. Related in those posters are the various Sirius activities throughout the years, the many sighting campaigns across the lands...


Nassim, Jamal and Kepler (Kepler from the USA not from Germany, aka John McFarland) with the Sirius posters in the background.

The exhibition was placed in the lounge room next to the main auditorium and the traffic was rather intense..

Even the various picture sessions were taken with the Sirius stand in the background. Here the spocs ( representatives of the countries) from all over the world taking a picture with Ms. Cezarski the head of IAU.

Here the students representatives of the various countries taking a picture with Ms. Cezarski the head of IAU.

Here with George Saliba from Columbia University at NewYork, the well known specialist of early Islamic astronomy.

And here with André Brahic, the famous French planetologist that we had as a guest on a TV show that Sirius produced with the National Algerian TV channel back in the nineties.

With our friend Phillip Morel, the SAF president.

So many famous astronomers were around that it wasn't difficult to oblige some for a picture. Here Nassim with Michel Mayor, the Swiss astronomer who discovered back in 1995 the first exoplanet.

A rich program of cultural activities ran in parallel to the opening ceremony, including an artistic exposition with many exposants at the Miro's gallery next to the conference hall. Here the TWAN's corner. See also below.

Click for another beautiful picture of the Tour Effel.

Sirius at the French Senate


Philippe Morel, the SAF President, during his visit at Constantine at the latest Algerian Astronomy Fair on Popular Astronomy, invited Sirius to give a talk at their program taking place at the Palais du Luxembourg, the seat of the French Senate.

Needless to say one needed to show many "pattes blanches" before entering inside the French Senate. It is indeed a place that most of the ordinary French citizens won't ever come inside.
Here displaying the Sirius logo inside the Senate!

Like a museum!
One had to cross various treasure rooms before reaching the Clémenceau Auditorium where the lecture program was to take place.

Many historical tableaux and famous busts...More here.

A lecture "Hymne à l'Astronomie d'Amateur : le cas de l'Algérie" was delivered on the first day by the Sirius president to a well garnished auditorium of eminent scientists and intellectuals in addition to journalists and members of the SAF. This was part of a one day long series of lectures organized by the SAF as a special celebration of the International Astronomy Year.

Another view with in the foreground a scene of an astronomical trip of the Sirius members.

A view of the audience.


Another activity which took place at the Senate was the award giving ceremony related to the Jules Janssen prizes for 2008 and 2009. Here Philippe Morel, the SAF's president, delivering the welcome address.

A. Dollfuss, the well known astronomer and past SAF president presenting the 2008 laureate's accomplishment for which the latter got the Jules Janssen prize. This prize was established to reward a scientist with a life long astronomical accomplishment.

It went to Jan Olof Stenflo, the well known Swedish solar astrophysicist.

Likewise, Mrs. Catherine Cezarsky was the laureate of the Jules Janssen prize for 2009.

...with Prof.Pierre Léna as the introducer.


Here Nassim and Jamal standing between Ms Cezarsky, the IAU head and the recipiendaire of the medal. At left Philippe Morel the SAF president passing by...

A central piece of this rich program was the exhibition "Citoyens du Ciel" in hommage to Camille Flammarion, the Society's founder and perhaps the greatest French astronomy popularizer. Nassim standing in front of an antic jewel, a refracting telescope in brass.

Other valuable telescopes were on display like above and at right in this unique astronomy alley, right in the middle of the Senate.


The SAF's president, Philippe Morel, insisted that we visit the historical Juvisy-sur-Orge observatory (l'Observatoire de Camille Flammarion) founded in 1883 and which is a propriety of the SAF and will return to it for use very soon while still on lease to the Juvisy municipality.

Here the SAF intertwined with Sirius. P.Morel its president at left with Pierre Poulat his vice president (The third from the right) while Hamid stands in between them and Jamal at the right.

The visit to the telescope room in the uppet floor.

The pier of the telescope. The telescope itself has been taken out to be refurbished.

The cupola in wood.

The tomb of Camille Flammarion the SAF founder in the park

The observatory, in addition to the main building hosting the telescope, the library and other dependencies, consists of a large property with a vast garden and even places of prehistorical setting. Another building across the street is part of the property and will be used as a new SAF activity center in the near future. Good luck for the SAF in their future endeavors! And may the spirit of Juvisy be with them.