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Latvian IYA2009 coordinator Mārtiņš Gills. Photo: Toms Grinbergs
Latvian IYA2009 coordinator Mārtiņš Gills. Photo: Toms Grinbergs

The Two-Day Conference “Astronomy in Latvia” Has Concluded
Irena Pundure, “Zvaigžņotā Debess (The Starry Sky)”

Within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, as proclaimed by the UN, the popular-science conference “Astronomy in Latvia” took place on October 9-10.

The conference proved to be equally useful both for professional astronomers and those interested in this scientific discipline in other contexts – representatives of other scientific disciplines, teachers, students and hobby astronomers. Such an event with a wide variety of topics took place in the country for the first time. The topics included the beginnings of astronomy in Latvia, astronomy at schools and universities, interesting themes and research methods of astronomy, hobby astronomy and astronomy in our life and culture.

Due to the efforts of the Latvian IYA2009 coordinator Mārtiņš Gills, astronomers outside Latvia such as the foreign member of Latvian Academy of Sciences Dainis Draviņš (Lund Observatory, Sweden), Imants Platais (Hopkins University, the USA) and Andris Vaivads (Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala) were also able to participate in the conference.

More than 200 participants had applied for the conference, including not only school and university students, teachers, professors, scientists, but also many other specialists interested in astronomy and representing many different spheres.

Within the five sessions of the conference it was possible to listen to 32 papers on astronomy themes topical in this country. The conference was opened by Mārtiņš Gills (pictured, photo by T. Grīnbergs) who also presided over the first session. The President of the Latvian Academy of Sciences Juris Ekmanis and the President of the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO Andris Vilks not only made the introductory remarks, but were also among the audience of the conference.

Alongside the conference in its venue – the 3rd floor of the high-rise building of the Latvian Academy of Sciences – the exhibition “Space Exploration” of France took place offering its information on interactive stands.