The 24th edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad certifies once again that  young people’s concern for the discovery of the mysteries of the Universe has remained the most fascinating challenge over time. Great scientists, such as Hipparchus of Nicaea, Ptolemy, Democritus of Abdera, Nicolaus Copernicus or Galileo Galilei, have shown us that Astronomy is not only a science like all the others, but it represents the journey to the place where the future is born, where the known and the unknown come together  and the distance becomes proximity.

This year’s edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad, held in Piatra-Neamț, as well as the privious ones , celebrates your permanent curiosity, from which  questions and answers arise, from which the journey of ”to be ”starts. It gives you, the participants, the freedom to juggle with your  knowledge, imagination, talent and joy to play constructively, combining the exact sciences with art and spirituality. It also gives you the opportunity to express your own theories about this fascinating laboratory , the Universe , to share common passions, to get to know each other and to make new friends.

Nichita Stanescu was right when he stated that “People are birds with wings raised inside.” Continue to fly to the realm of fantasy, to the horizon of knowledge, with the same joy and courage to unveil the unknown, so as to enrich the dowry of information in this field.

Dear students, in-love with Astronomy,to you, the most serious young people ,” heads in the clouds”, as well as to the mentors and teachers who are with you, instilling you the  passion to explore the Universe, to understand it “in a different way” – not only with your minds, but also with your souls, – I wish  success in this adventure of knowledge and results according to your effort,  enthusiasm and  dedication for this science. I am also convinced that some of you will become  astronomers, fervent researchers, who will contribute to the evolution of the world and the planet, because, while discovering  the Universe, we are discovering ourselves.

State Secretary
Ionel Florian LIXANDRU

A century ago, 207 members from 19 countries came together to form the International Astronomical Union – IAU. Today, the Union has reached nearly 14,000 members from 82 countries, many of whom are very young. This shows both the interest of the new generation in getting to know more about the sky and the role of astronomy in saving our planet.

How many of those who are here today at this international Olympics will become professional astronomers, members of the IAU? Some will embrace other professions but their love for astronomy will make them continue to observe the sky, to find evidence that can help them in their profession or, the other way round, they will use their work to advance astronomy and space research.

You have the chance that the 24th edition of the International Olympics is taking place in a very special location: Piatra Neamt, one of the most picturesque towns in Romania. You will therefore have the opportunity not only to get to know each other, those in love with astronomy, but also to discover fabulous places that you may not have seen yet and where you will definitely return.

We hope that you will come back soon and to bring forth the message of love of the universe that we have always cultivated in this part of the world.

Dr. Magda Stavinschi
President of the IAU Commission for Education and Development between 2006 and 2009
Honorary researcher at the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy


Over time, astronomy (from Greek, astron – star, nomos – law) has played an important role in most cultures, and continues to be a roadblock today. It is sufficient to mention only a few applications of astronomy: exact measurement of time, calculation and composition of calendars of current use, establishment of geographical and topographic maps, methods of astronomical orientation, forecasting of astronomical phenomena, study of apparent and real movements of celestial bodies, use of artificial satellites , tracking the asteroids that have dangerous trajectories for the Earth and establishing effective methods for removing possible collisions with the Earth, conducting experiments to expand human knowledge. With this range of practical applications that are becoming more and more economically efficient, astronomy offers the possibility of a diverse range of professional training, now and in the perspective of the following decades.

One of the most dynamic disciplines of study, astronomy helps to develop the fundamental sciences, mathematics, physics, biology, geography, geology, ecology, philosophy, economics, but also the humanities. Through this interdisciplinary approach, astronomy and astrophysics form an unitary scientific thinking, very useful to a society in continuous globalization, such as the society in which we live, in which the pulse and speed of information obliges rigorous selection, consistent study, adaptability and objective filtering.

Young people need to be motivated to acquire this knowledge, which is why the organization in the Neamț County of the XXIVth edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad demonstrates the special attention that the Romanian community gives in support of values and education, for intellectual-cognitive purposes, of the use of intellectual acquisitions in the investigation and interpretation of the surrounding world.

The activities implemented within the International Astronomy Olympiad bring together, in an elite competitive structure, 240 students and teachers from over twenty countries and contribute to the development of the capacity for collaboration and communication.

Equally, this event offers the opportunity to promote, explore and capitalize on the tourism, cultural and spiritual potential of Neamț County. The competition is supported by the entire educational community in Neamț County: 165 physics teachers from secondary schools and highschools (members of the Physics@NT Teachers Association), 150 foreign language teachers, history-geography, arts, computer science, technology, volunteers- students from the schools in Neamț Country.

The expression in Latin Per aspera ad astra from Seneca’s Mad Hercule tragedy, which can be translated “by hardships, to the stars” or “on difficult paths (reaching) the stars”, defines, as suggestively as possible, the path strewn with difficulties of all those who shape characters and generously provide the light of knowledge. For us, the teachers, the path to success is sprinkled with hardships and only through the laborious efforts (per aspera) can one reach the achievement – the light (ad astra). For you, dear students who are passionate about exploring the Universe, the path to success will give you the opportunity to accumulate new knowledge, which will strengthen that foundation of trust from which we all must embark on the great adventure of existence, of lifelong learning.

Under the sign of tradition, which is configured under our eyes, a tradition reinforced by generations of students and teachers passionate about the mysteries of the Universe, I wish the participants in the XXIV edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad a great success!

Inspector general school,
Prof. Elena LAIU

In Romania, we could say that Astronomy can be the object of studying a paradox.

Astronomy is no longer a discipline included in the national curriculum since 2000 and yet since 2003, the year of Romania’s first participation in the IAO, Astronomy has been increasingly embraced by more students and teachers. From 47 to 50 students participating in the National Astronomy Olympiad organized in 2003 from several counties, their number has increased to almost 150 selected students from several thousand in the country from over 30 counties.

The solution to this paradox was given to us by a sixth-grade student who was passionate about astronomy through his question: ‘How can I become an international Olympian at Astronomy?’ The answer given by the moment has in fact become the algorithm for stimulating the “learning” of Astronomy!

Ask your physics and/or math teacher to teach you! If you do not know how to write an email to me or one of the members of the central commission of the national astronomy Olympiad!

The result was that we had to gather vast basic documentation in astronomy, courses, problem collections, topic models, etc. which we sent to all the teachers and students who wrote to us or discussed with us at the National Olympics and their number was increasing.

It is a possible explanation of the paradox stated but evidence and possibly other opinions can be obtained from the students who come year after year to the Astronomy Olympiad, from the former Astronomy Olympics who either study astronomy at prestigious universities in the world, or already follow a devoted academic path of astronomy research and teaching.

For several years now, the team leaders of the Romanian team at the astronomy Olympics “face” their former students who came as team leaders and coaches of teams from other countries – quod erat demonstrandum.

In this context, we have the joy that among the evaluators nominated at this edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad together with their teachers, mention Miss Mirițescu Cătălina,  medaled three years in a row at the IOAA and until last year team leader and coach of the USA team for IOAA, along with her former high school colleague as well as the students Prodan George Pantelimon, University of Bucharest Faculty of Physics and Drăgoi Raul Ioan – Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca, laureates of previous international astronomy editions.

Thus we can say that in Romania, Astronomy is still taught in school. Not because the student has to learn from the teacher, but because the teacher has to learn with his own student. It is the merit of dedicated teachers and enthusiastic students, in this century of cosmic flights, and of the greatest and most extraordinary discoveries in the cosmos that are stirring the imagination of any young man.

Naghi Elisabeta Ana, MEN Advisor

Trocaru Sorin, MEN Inspector

The city of Piatra Neamţ has the honor of hosting The International Astronomy Olympiad, a science of the future that is in full swing; it is actually one of the sciences which benefit from significant investment nowadays.

I am happy to greet the participants, students and teachers from all over the world, and I congratulate them on their work and results in this area. They are appreciated all the more because Astronomy is a science that is not taught as a school subject, therefore its study and teaching involve additional effort, dedication and a lot of passion.

One thing that I would like to mention is the fact that we owe our hosting of this year’s International Astronomy Olympiad to the young inhabitants of Piatra Neamț, who have made the city’s name famous through the results they have obtained in international competitions. I will take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate them once again.

The City Hall of Piatra-Neamţ will continue to support not only the students, but also the teachers who are especially appreciated for their hard work and commitment.

I wish you all  good luck!

Dragoş Chitic,
Mayor of Piatra-Neamţ municipality

Not long ago, the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019 for, I quote, : ‘Contributions to understanding the evolution of the Universe and the place of the Earth in space’.

2019 is the year in which Romania is honored to organize the 24th edition of the International Astronomy Olympiad (IOA).

I think this is not by chance because, since 2003, when Romania   first participated in IOA, Astronomy, which is not in the national curriculum as a distinct school subject, has attracted both students and teachers.

I asked myself ‘why?’ I found the answer, as a graduate of Physics and a teacher of Physics: in  Basarab  Niculescu’s definition of  Astronomy which is, indeed,  a ‘ transdisciplinary branch of science’ .

Astronomy harmoniously combines Physics, Mathematics, Technology, Art, History and Geography. The beauty of Astronomy is an intrinsic one, not by the answers it gives, but by the way it incites the search for answers to the deeply human existential questions: ‘Who are we in the Universe?’, ‘Where do we come from?’, ‘Where are we heading in the future?’.

The year in which the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded for discoveries in Astronomy is the same as the year when the IOA is organized in Romania – it is not a mere chance.

And I want this to be proven in a few years, not many, when one of the future Nobel laureates may be one of  you, the young participants in the  24th edition of the IAO,  Romania, 2019.

Corina Marin
General Manager
Directorate-General for Higher Secondary Education and Lifelong Learning

In 1997 Prof. Dr. Magda Stavinschi, at that time Director of the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, received the invitation, for a Romanian team to participate in the International Astronomy Olympiad that took place in October, between the 22nd and the 28th, 1997 at the Astrophysical Observatory of Russian Academy of Sciences (SAO RAS). The invitation was signed by Dr. Michael Gavrilov, Chairman of the Coordinating Council of the International Olympiad of Euro-Asian Astronomical Society ISSP of Russ.Acad.Sci.

Through the joint effort of a group of people who loved Astronomy, in 2003 Romania started as an official participant in the IOA, continuing to participate until now when it is the organiser of the competition. During the 16 editions in which Romania participated, it obtained 63 medals: 13 gold medals, 20 silver medals and 30 bronze medals along with other diplomas and honorable mentions.

 The 17th participation of Romania in the IAO, respectively the 24th IAO, which will be held in Romania this year, comes in recognition of the activity and results in the field of Mathematics and Science.

I wish you a pleasant stay in Romania, in the beautiful Moldavian region and success to all participants!

Prof. Erika Lucia Suhay
Member of The Romanian National Astronomy Committee (CNRA)
Member of The European Astronomy Society (EAS)