On February 14, 2020, at the Old Observatory in Leiden, the Netherlands, the project organised The Pale Blue Dot Symposium, as a part of the global celebration that concluded the 100th anniversary of the founding of the International Astronomical Union. The symposium celebrated the 30th anniversary of the famous ‘pale blue dot’ photo. A variety of speakers illustrated the historical and cultural implications of the pale blue dot image, described current research on planets around other stars and discussed what this teaches us about life in the Universe. Approximately 80 people joined the event, including some journalists and the Dutch astronaut André Kuipers even joined unexpectedly for the whole day. The day was concluded with the opening of a new art-science exhibition Living in the shadow of radio telescopes and the Drake Equation at the Old Observatory. The same week, Michelle Willebrands gave an interview about the Pale Blue Dot to a local newspaper, Het Leidsch Dagblad.
The symposium is also a taste of “Pale Blue Dot”, a pilot for the flagship project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development, about astronomy for diplomacy and peace. Pale Blue Dot will use the perspective of astronomy as an inspirational tool to excite young children globally and stimulate a sense of global citizenship, tolerance and climate change awareness. It will further the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals that involve peace, quality education and climate action and will also be a multidisciplinary practice-research platform.
On the 13th of February, we held a meeting with some of the symposium speakers to discuss the feasibility of a research study into the effectiveness of Pale Blue Dot as an educational tool to stimulate global citizenship in young children. We selected our symposium speakers to be both motivational public speakers, as well as relevant researchers for the research aspects of Pale Blue Dot to be able to have both actions at the same occasion.