The year 2009 is observed as the “Year of Astronomy” (IYA). It marks the 400th anniversary of the historical occasion when Galileo Galilei in 1609 used the newly invented telescope to observe astronomical objects. Eversince, many discoveries have taken place. In the past decade, more than 300 exoplenets orbiting nearby stars have been discovered. In short, Astronomy, one of the oldest of sciences is in for a big leap. Let us also not forget the recent enigmatic discoveries, dark matter and dark energy. During the IYA, let us ponder over these enigmas in all humility.
There is excitement about astrobiology and detection of life, especially possible intelligent life, on the innumerable worlds populating the universe. Powerful radio beacons and laser beams from advanced civilisations are already being seriously searched for using the largest telescopes. 2009 also marks the sesquicentury of Darwin’s epochal work ‘Origin of Species’ which revolutionised biology and the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth. So it would be appropriate to have 2009 also as a year for astrobiology as part of the year of astronomy.