With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for astronomers.
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European astronomers have always been leaders in exploring the final frontier. The EU helps to continue this tradition, regardless of whether astronomers are amateur or professional. In 2017, for example, a Belgian astronomer made international headlines with the discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting another star (Trappist-1 system), and a French astronomer discovered the existence of a ring around a dwarf planet in our own solar system (Haumea). Both discoveries were made possible through EU financial support.
The EU helps to fire up the next generation of astronomers through its financial support to the ‘EU-Universe Awareness project’. This initiative uses astronomy to inspire and encourage a lifelong interest in science among young children (aged 4 to 10). The EU’s support was used to develop the project in five EU countries from 2011 to 2013, and it has since grown into an international network of 16 EU countries.
The EU also pays for the development of world-class research infrastructure to ensure that professional astronomers can continue to conduct cutting-edge research. One example is EU funding of the ‘ASTERICS project’, supporting future collaboration between four new large telescopes. At the same time, the EU provides grants to ambitious astronomers, to encourage further important discoveries.
Every astronomer, whether working from an observatory or from their backyard, can enjoy the remarkable results of EU-funded projects, and hopefully future generations will be inspired to boldly go where no one has gone before!
- European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, https://ec.europa.eu/info/research-and-innovation_en
- European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service, https://cordis.europa.eu/home_en.html
- Website of Universe Awareness, http://www.unawe.org/