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Astronomical Heritage: Progressing the UNESCO–IAU Initiative

A Focus Meeting to be held at the
29th IAU General Assembly
Honolulu, Hawai‘i, August 11–13, 2015

Since 2008 the International Astronomical Union has worked with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to implement its Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative. Through deliverables such as the ICOMOS–IAU Thematic Study on the Heritage Sites of Astronomy and Archaeoastronomy (2010) and the Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy (2012), it has been influential in developing broad criteria for assessing the heritage values, and ultimately the potential Outstanding Universal Value (needed for inclusion on the World Heritage List), of cultural sites of all ages relating to astronomy. Since 2012, representatives of the IAU have begun to work directly with State Parties in the context of the Initiative to help develop particular potential nominations to the World Heritage List.

This meeting will review achievements to date, discuss some of the most challenging current issues in the general assessment of different types and categories of astronomical heritage, and evaluate progress with three projects focusing on particular potential nominations. The existence of both ancient and modern sites of outstanding importance relating to astronomy make the Hawaiian Islands a very appropriate setting for this meeting, and the time and place are particularly apposite given both the “Windows to the Universe” project and the expected publication, by the time of the General Assembly, of a second Thematic Study on astronomical heritage and at least two major new works relating to Hawaiian cultural astronomy.

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