Lina Canas

Greetings from Japan! My name is Lina and very recently have joined the Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) based in Mitaka, a twenty minutes train ride from central Tokyo. OAO is based at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and I must say I feel more than honoured to be able to join this great team.

I’ve been following GAM Blog since back 2012 and I feel very lucky that one of my first official tasks for OAO is to write an article for it, giving me the chance to express some of my initial insights on OAO and all the projects we face ahead. So, I must say I’m really excited to embark on this new adventure and to be given the chance to work on IAU programs such as NameExoWorlds or Cosmic Light for International Year of Light 2015.

I always thought how cool it would be to actually name an alien world, but I always wondered how even cooler would it be to actually have astronomers using the name I had thought up in their papers, science articles, grumpy rants at 4am… and now this truly is possible! I’m really glad to be able to give my contribution to this IAU campaign. So, for NameExoWorlds IAU’s goal is simple: to involve everyone, literally everyone, in the process of naming exoworlds. First you just need to want to name an alien world (who doesn’t, right?), then and because when you do things together with others is always much better than when you’re alone, contact your local astronomy club (or your local planetarium, local science centre, etc…) and discuss with them your ideas. Discussing astronomy is fun and you can learn a lot more about astronomy and which exoworlds you’d like to name. Then in the process you can talk to your friends and family or even engage with your community into finding your favourite names of choice for exoplanetary systems and their host stars and at the same time start gaining fans for voting on your name. Still having doubts on how to do it? OAO is here to help!

Another project OAO is currently coordinating is Cosmic Light and again, I was lucky to start working in 2015, right in the middle of International Year of Light celebrations! And as light pollution focused IAU program Cosmic Light gains momentum there are a lot of things that we can look forward to. This is a unique opportunity to continue the amazing work already done around the world by so many people. Since back 2009 IAU is committed to fight light pollution and hopes to further aid these programs actively, raising awareness for the loss of our dark skies and the importance that cosmic light has not only for astronomy but for everyone here on earth.

So, again, there are really cool things being launched as we speak. For instance, if you’re an app fan then you’ll definitely want to play with the Dark Sky Meter app (you can just download from the appstore) and join global citizen science projects by measuring the quality of your sky. You have Light: Beyond the Bulb exhibition that’s already being a huge success! I guess many of you may still remember how cool FETTU was and the incredible impact it had back in 2009, I’m really curious in knowing what improbable great places they will reach this time around. We also have Galileoscopes reaching impoverished communities with it’s easy to assemble low cost telescope. And of course IAU’s concern with schools and teaching communities will provide sustainable resources, activities and support, which teachers can use with their students around the world. There is much here to look forward to!

I finish by thanking AWB and GAM Blog for having me. I have been collaborating with AWB for a long time now, since 2010 actually, first with the planetarium group and then with the special needs group and I have had a lot of fun and hopefully we can continue to do many great things in the future! And last but not least a huge thank you for reading! And remember, please stay in touch! If you have any questions, ideas you want to share or just to say hi! please feel free to do so, after all, we’re just an email away!

IAU OAO team is composed by (from bottom left) Yukiko Shibata, Sze-leung Cheung, Lina Canas, Hidehiko Agata and Kumiko Usuda (bottom right).


Lina Canas is currently based at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in Mitaka, Tokyo working for the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach. Throughout the years she has collaborated with many education and outreach associations in different projects, allowing her to know first-hand that the world is full of amazing people doing amazing things! Many of her hobbies overlap with her work, which sometimes is confusingly fun & confusingly stressing at the same time.

Email: [email protected]