Unione Astrofili Italiani (Italian Amateur Astronomers Union – UAI), founded on November 5th, 1967 in Cremona, has been for over 50 years the main cultural, organizational and motivational reference for Italian astrophiles, or “astrophiles”, those who are passionate about astronomy and science in general.
UAI is a non-profit organization, a “social promotion association” (APS) registered in the national register of APS (law 383, December 7th, 2000) and pursues its mission of promoting astronomical and scientific culture by operating in constant and fruitful collaboration with professional astronomers, public and private research bodies and universities, school and education system, national and local public institutions, other associations and bodies / structures that share the same objectives and methodologies, even in related fields.
More specifically, UAI objectives are:
- the dissemination and popularization of Astronomy
- the production and promotion of studies and research in the sector
- the protection and enhancement of the environment to safeguard the observation of the sky
- the promotion of educational activities in astronomy as well as the training of school staff
These objectives are pursued above all through the support, enhancement and coordination of the large network of local associations of astrophiles (about 250), of the Astronomical Observatories open to the public (about 80) and of the small Planetaria managed by astrophiles: a small “army” of citizen scientists at the service of Italian scientific culture!
Organizationally, UAI is made up of more than 60 territorial Delegations (Associations of astrophiles affiliated with UAI and autonomously constituted and operated at local level) as well as central structures (the general secretariat and the thematic commissions), which jointly operate in the conception, promotion and implementation of projects, initiatives and events in the various sectors of teaching, dissemination, amateur research, technical development, monitoring and fight against light pollution.
UAI truly offers the world of fans a “galaxy” of opportunities. Here is a brief “identity card”
- Amateur Research. UAI coordinates nationally the observations of celestial bodies and the most interesting astronomical phenomena, providing information and support to all astrophiles and research groups, maintaining close contacts with other important associations abroad and with the most qualified professionals of the sector.
- Outreach and Education. UAI organizes and promotes an important national calendar of events and activities to bring the entire population closer to astronomy, especially on the occasion of exceptional astronomical phenomena, also coordinating and supporting the action of local associations. UAI is strongly committed to enhancing the role of astronomy in the training programs of schools of all levels, with the accreditation of the MIUR, which also supports some national educational projects, such as “Il Cielo in una Scuola” (“Sky in a School”).
Thanks also to the “Astro-Academy” project, supported by the Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, UAI is also involved in training Delegation operators in the fields of education and dissemination.
- Fight against light pollution. UAI is committed to monitoring light pollution, promoting legislative initiatives such as municipal regulations and regional laws, finding forms of collaboration and program agreements with manufacturers and operators, and in general spreading public awareness of the problem.
- Technique and Tools. Technology is one of the basic tools of the astrophile, along with passion and knowledge. In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, and where the experimental and creative contributions of the astrophiles themselves are many, it is important to spread new knowledge and good practices in the amateur community.
- ASTRONOMIA UAI: the magazine for all Italian astrophiles. It is the magazine that for decades has brought the news from the astrophiles’ world, featuring major scientific and popularization articles, technical, application and education columns, information on social life and the world of astrophilia. Summaries of key articles are regularly hosted in Astronomy & Astrophysics Abstracts.
- UAI Almanac: the tool indispensable for all astrophiles and sky enthusiasts. On the desk of many astrophiles since 1978, the Almanac illustrates all the astronomical phenomena of the year, the ephemeris of the Sun, Moon, Planets and satellites, asteroids, comets, meteor showers. The Almanac is also an educational tool, with explanations of the basic concepts of astronomy mentioned in the text, as well as advice and recommendations from UAI National Research Sections in order to make useful observations for statistical and research purposes.
- UAI Library: the most useful tools for studying the Sky. UAI has a rich on-line library of E-books available to all amateur astronomers: from Section Manuals and other e-books that represent authoritative points of reference for starting, deepening and specializing the observation of the sky.
- UAI on the Internet: online astronomy for everyone. The web site www.uai.it since 1995 hosts all the information relating to the life of the association, the Research Sections, the activities of the Outreach, Education and Light Pollution Committees, UAI Delegations and major events organized from UAI.
- Remote telescopes. UAI offers remote telescopes access (www.uai.it/sito/rete-telescopi-remoti), which allow all its members to discover the sky, live and from life, even from home!
- The network of UAI Delegations. UAI is strongly committed to supporting and growing the network of over 60 local Delegations and of the managed Astronomical Observatories and Planetaria and in general to ensure that the astrophile community is more united, stronger and more effective.
The astrophiles and the relevance of their associations in Italy
Since the dawn of civilization, man has always undergone the irresistible charm of the starry sky.
Observing his periodic phenomena, such as the cycle of the lunar phases, was essential for daily life, for example to determine the best time for sowing or to orient himself with the stars during navigation.
For centuries, turning your eyes to the starry sky has been a daily gesture, a habit that today is being lost and many, too many people almost “ignore” its existence. It is certainly a cultural problem, but light pollution also plays its part: just think that about a third of humanity (including 60% of Europeans and 80% of North Americans) has never been able to enjoy of one of the most beautiful natural spectacles: the Milky Way.
The 21st century Astrophile cultivates a passion that is complex but also stimulating for the technical challenges and for the valuable contribution to scientific research. In addition to that, the astrophile remains the depositary of knowledge and a practice as old as man, with the fundamental mission of preserving, transmitting and sharing it as much as possible to a society that is increasingly distracted but at the at the same time increasingly in need of the “culture of the sky.”