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Inspiring Stars showcases events in three European capitals

1 March 2019


Presentation during the Inspiring Stars event in Rome at the INAF. Credit: Inspiring Stars

After the Bridging Event at the Planetarium in Brussels and the active participation in the Zero Conference at the United Nations in Vienna, the IAU100 Inspiring Stars travelling exhibition on inclusive astronomy projects has arrived in Italy.

The exhibition is an IAU100 Global Project and aims to present scientific activities accessible to all audiences. Inclusion is understood in the most general sense possible, not only towards disabilities but also towards the limitation of the opportunities to understand and participate in all the processes of the astronomy science.


On 18 February the Brussels Planetarium, led by the National Outreach Coordinator and IAU100 National Committee Rodrigo Alvarez, received a group of 30 students and educators for a workshop paired with an inclusive exhibition, where the multisensorial exploration of astronomy fascinated educators and pupils alike. Credit: Inspiring Stars


The Zero Project shares models that improve the daily lives and legal rights of all persons with disabilities worldwide. From 20 to 22 February, Inspiring Stars showcased best practices on inclusive astronomy at the Zero Project Conference 2019 in Vienna. This was a unique opportunity to broaden the projects reach to an international network of experts in the field of inclusion. Credit: Inspiring Stars

With the close collaboration of the INAF (National Institute for Astrophysics) and the Italian NOC/IAU100 Stefano Sandrelli , this traveling exhibition arrived in Italy where the first stage of Inspiring stars took place on 23 February at the Rebibbia facility. Two of the promoters - Maria Rosaria D'Antonio and Wanda Mercedez Diaz - presented some of the activities together with the INAF researchers, including Silvia Casu dell 'INAF-OAC, Francesco D'Alessio and Riccardo Leoni of INAF-OAR, Stefania Varano of INAF-IRA and Prof. Nicoletta Lanciano. The event was organized thanks to the work Director Rossella Santoro, Luigi Giannelli, Alessandro Reale and  Paolo Masini, president of ROMABPA, that involved nearly forty inmates in an open meeting with the astronomers, who presented their ideas and projects on the theme of inclusion through astronomy.


The study hall of the penal institution metaphorically knocked down its walls for a few hours to the exploration of the Universe. Language barriers also fell when the presentation of Wanda Diaz Merced began in Spanish, at the audience’s request, who remained focused and attentive, rapt by the enthusiasm of the IAU ambassador. Credit: Inspiring Stars

To eliminate potential discomfort and to foster  an environment of total mutual respect and inclusion, the inmates welcomed the delegation of Inspiring Stars with an engaging and passionate musical interlude with Constantin Marian and Ferdinando Ciarelli. The astronomy presentations proceeded, and after the tactile exploration of the 3D models of the project "A touch of the Universe", the astronomers displayed a multisensory representation of invisible data. This activity sought to demonstrate the humanistic nature of modern astrophysics, composed of numbers that need not be translated into images, but can become tactile or sound stimuli. Furthermore, the functioning of a telescope and the functionalities of the innovative system were revealing through sounds the characteristics of the observed objects. By the end of the event, one of the inmates expressed that he would make a special theme song for Inspiring Stars, giving continuity to the exchange.

The Inspiring Stars events continued during the Italian Space Agency (ASI) meeting on 25 February, accompanied by a presentation by Wanda Diaz Merced. The Inspiring Stars activities will continue throughout the year, in different stages in Italian and international territory, with more dedicated events scheduled in the upcoming months.


Rosaria D’Antonio

IAU Inspiring Stars Task Force

Jorge Rivero González

IAU100 Coordinator

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