The International School for Young Astronomers

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Itziar Aretxaga, ISYA Director and
David Mota, ISYA Deputy Director

Published in Catalyst no. 2, December 2019 “The International School for Young Astronomers”

ISYA2017 Ethiopia IAU OYA

The International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA) is a programme begun in 1967 by the IAU to aid the development of astronomy graduates around the world, targeting specifically those in astronomically underdeveloped countries and isolated groups. During its 53 years, it has organised 42 schools in 27 countries. Schools usually have ~ 30–50 students aided by a team of 10–15 lecturers for a 3-week-long intensive and broadscope programme. Over time, ISYAs have hosted over 1400 students and 400 lectures. Many prominent IAU members were students of the programme, and it is now the case that alumni are enthusiastic promoters of, and lecturers on, new ISYAs. The ISYA programme is currently overseen by the Office for Young Astronomers, and implemented by representatives of the IAU and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Together with the funds and guidance provided by the Office, the contribution of the local host institutes is paramount to the successful organisation of the ISYAs. The next schools will be held at the Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas, Mexico, in June 2020 and at the South African Astronomical Observatory in November–December 2020. We are currently looking for hosts for 2021 onwards.

Conditions for astronomy vary around the globe, and hence ISYAs are tailored to local needs. The programme has a flexible portfolio of lectures that can fit an observational astronomy school, a computational astrophysics school or a school geared towards development, and we are assembling a portfolio for education too. Apart from seminal lectures and hands-on laboratories and observations, the school offers workshops on career development, outreach, short-scope projects for students, and long-lasting links and networks with lecturers and fellow students alike. Ex-alumni maintain a Facebook page that gathers together members from all generations. Full information on the programme can be found at The International School for Young Astronomers webpage.

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