International Conference of Young Astronomers 2009

astronomy, ICYA2009, IYA
Logotype by Mariusz Slonina

Back in May, I wrote about the The International Conference of Young Astronomers (ICYA). Once this was advertised my eyes lit up for me seeing this another valuable opportunity to get in touch with other young scientists, with whom we might cooperate in the future. It would also be a good chance to establish connections there with scientists, researchers and advanced amateur astronomers whom I could meet in the future and work together in projects which will develop modern astronomy. A good few of us from the opening ceremony of IYA, in Paris who have stayed in touch since that conference, mainly via a Gooogle Group, but with modern technology have managed to regularly keep in touch, as far as countries such as Venezuela, New Zealand and Indonesia, and now call each other friends. This event was something of a great opportunity for us all academically, where most of us study the subject, but also a great chance to meet with such friends it is normally difficult to see.
It was a great shame for us friends attending that it wasn’t possible for some of our other friends to make it. It is understandable in many cases, due to the severe distance and price involved, as well as general complications of everyday life. It was sad in particular, that one of our friends who put hard work into a spectacular poster, at the last minute could not make the conference due to visa problems in his country. I must say, he was there in spirit.

Between 6th – 13th September we attended the International Conference of Young Astronomers, in Krakow, Poland; a scientific meeting of undergraduate and PhD students of astronomy and physics as well as more advanced astronomers. We, as young scientists, feel we should contribute our share to this year’s International Year of Astronomy 2009. For this reason we aim to arrange an international conference to broaden our minds and to discuss challenging issues of astronomy. The goal of the conference is to establish the ICYA as a regular conference, held once a year in different countries, connecting young astronomers from all over the world. Let’s make it happen!

This year the ICYA was organised by the Polish Astronomical Society in collaboration with Polish universities (The Jagiellonian University of Cracow, The University of Warsaw, The Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań, The Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, The University of Zielona Góra, The University of Szczecin, The Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences) and supported by foreign universities and astronomical societies as well as international astronomical organizations.

The conference was very well organised, with great talks from professional astronomers, those also from some students, a mix of undergraduates and postgraduate researchers, also 10s of posters were on display. There was a great range of talks, although maybe I am now slightly biased saying this, but my feeling was there wasn’t as much planetary science and a dominance of high-energy astrophysics. I didn’t mind it however, as they are equally as fascinating to me, but maybe personally it would have been good to see what other students are doing in the field of astronomy. There was a great talk by Michal Drahus however, on ‘Microwave spectroscopy as a tool for studying the properties of active cometary nuclei’, who by coincidence works in the exact group I shall be working in, and knows my supervisor well. I know it can be difficult to get an equal balance, and I think was largely diverse, with topics including also GRBs, AGN, exoplanets, space physics, cosmology and projects for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. These were noticeably split up very well, largely into sessions of these particular fields.

On the Tuesday, interestingly for an astronomy conference, we had an International Sports Competition, and by way of vote we played volleyball. Personally I’d not played this in years. In our group, largely us ‘IYA’ friends, we came a respectable 4th place out of I think around 10 groups. Good fun, though after lack of sleep I probably wasn’t the most active in the group.

Throughout my time in Krakow, in particular at the conference I tried my best, within practical means of producing a Twitter feed about the conference, which you can search for under the tag ‘#ICYA09’. I only had internet access at the conference and that was a little temporamental unfortunately.

We had some good times, with tours of Krakow, a guided city tour, an open bar, also an amazing candlelit buffet, bonfire and free beer, wine and soft drinks all night at the Jagiellonian University!

Thanks go again to the organisers who did a remarkable job, who made this truly an experience many of us will never forget. 😀

For more information about ICYA2009, visit:

Proceedings should follow shortly, as well as a photo gallery containing many of the pictures we took during the week.

My own photo album of the conference can be viewed here.

Clear skies ^-^

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