About Us

Message

NAOJ is Japan’s world-famous comprehensive astronomy institution. It makes good use of every means available to pursue the mysteries of the Universe, from telescopes and antennas for every wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, such as visible light and radio waves; to artificial satellites and supercomputers. Our mission in the Public Relations Center is to present this energetic research to all citizens in an easy to understand format. Every day we work as a “window to the sky,” providing notifications covering not just research results and the latest discoveries about space; but also calendrical data related to everyday life, such as the dates of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, or sunrise and sunset times; and information about events which everyone can enjoy such as eclipses and comets. We strive to provide quality science entertainment by offering public visits which are free every day and an information-filled webpage, so that everyone will think “astronomy really is fun.”

Director of the Public Relations Center: Toshio Fukushima

History

1994Public Information Office founded
1995NAOJ website launched
April 1996Stargazing parties using the 50-cm Telescope for Public Outreach started
June 1998Public Information Office, New Objects Information Office, and Ephemeris Computation Office combined to form the Public Relations Center
July 2000Mitaka Campus Visitors’ Area opened
April 2004Library Unit and Public Relations Unit added to the Public Relations Center
2011Repsold Transit Instrument registered as an important cultural property
2014Office for Astronomy Outreach added to the Public Relations Center
April 2019Frequency Resource Protection Office added to the Public Relations Center

Public Relations Office

“A New View of the Universe” at Your Finger Tips

Head: Hitoshi Yamaoka

“A New View of the Universe” at Your Finger Tips

There are probably people who, when they hear the word “astronomy,” think it has nothing to do with them.

But that’s not the case.

While walking a moonlit road at night, you might ponder how the Moon was formed long ago. Eventually, all the stars that emit light die, and the records of these giant explosions are preserved in the documents studied in classical literature classes. The topic of astronomy crops up in an array of places.

The Public Relations Office delivers the latest research results obtained at NAOJ observational and research facilities, as well as various topics related to astronomy, to everyone in an easy-to-understand format. We employ dynamic media, namely: press releases, web releases, email news, and social media. We also conduct the production of explanatory videos, live-relays of lectures, and a variety of other events and information distribution in cooperation with the Outreach and Education Office and the Publications Office.

The goal of the Public Relations Office is to connect you to Astronomy.

Chief of the Public Relations Office: Hitoshi Yamaoka

Activities

Internet Information Distribution

We manage the NAOJ website and continue stable, regular information-distribution. We also issue email magazines from time to time.

Press Releases

We release press releases and hold press conferences regarding NAOJ research results, etc.

Internet Live-Relays, Video Production

We broadcast lectures and notable heavenly phenomena, such as solar and lunar eclipses, live via the internet. We also produce videos.

Citizen Astronomy

By using data obtained from the observation facilities of NAOJ, such as the Subaru Telescope, we aim to bridge the gap between the public and researchers through research projects in which citizens can participate.

International Outreach

We disseminate information through press releases in English, and host booths at international meetings to build relationships with overseas journalists.

Outreach and Education Office

Striving to Develop Astronomy Education and Science Entertainment

Head: Hidehiko Agata

Striving to Develop Astronomy Education and Science Entertainment

Astronomy is one of the oldest disciplines. It’s also called “a science for everyone.” The Outreach and Education Office strives to create astronomy education and science entertainment by developing an array of science communication ideas related to astronomy, in cooperation with partners and interested parties both within and outside of NAOJ.

We conduct (1) management for Mitaka Headquarters Public Visits (including regular stargazing parties and screenings at the 4D2U Dome Theater); (2) the Astronomy Inquiries Telephone Service; (3) outreach activities going out to towns and schools; (4) national campaigns, assorted events, and study sessions in cooperation with various organizations and groups related to space and astronomy; (5) science education support activities in cooperation with the International Astronomical Union (IAU), UNESCO, and other organizations; and (6) independent content development including the distribution of telescope kits, posters, astronomy merchandise, images, and software.

We strive for fine-tuned communication activities, connecting to each and every child and citizen, so that the natural sciences in general, and astronomy in particular, can contribute to people’s happiness.

Chief of the Outreach and Education Office: Hidehiko Agata

Activities

Department of Public Visits

The Outreach and Education Office conducts tours and special events at Mitaka Campus, which is the open research facility where the headquarters of NAOJ is located. See more

Inquires Department

The Outreach and Education Office answers questions related to astronomy and space from everyone, offering information to strengthen interest and understanding in astronomy. See more

Department of Events and Education

The Outreach and Education Office plans and carries out a wide range of events for the purposes of astronomy outreach and education. See more

Department of Content Development

In the Outreach and Education Office, we publish web content, including introductions of the outreach and education activities occurring in each department and reference material for enrich the experience and understanding of astronomical phenomena. We also work on producing printed matter, teaching materials, etc. See more

Frequency Resource Protection Office

Protection of the Environment for Radio Astronomy Observations

Head: Masatoshi Oishi

Protection of the Environment for Radio Astronomy Observations

The intensity of the radio waves that radio telescopes observe is very weak. No one would think that they could make a cell-phone call from the Moon to Earth. However, if we observed the radio waves from a cell phone placed on the Moon through a highly sensitive radio telescope, it would appear as one of the strongest radio sources in the sky. In other words, radio telescopes are susceptible to radio interference from wireless devices which make our everyday lives easier.

The Office was established in April 2019 to adequately protect radio astronomy observations from man-made radio waves. Since radio bandwidth is a limited resource, we should allocate different frequency bands to radio astronomers and radio users. The Radio Act set forth by the Government of Japan and the Radio Regulations set forth by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) are the basic rules that enable various uses of radio waves. In accordance with these rules, we promote the allocation of frequency bands and the prevention of the radio interference based on requests from radio astronomers.

Chief of the Frequency Resource Protection OfficeMasatoshi Oishi

Activities

Conferences and Negotiations

We participate in conferences held by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications or ITU and argue back and forth with radio users.

Ephemeris Computation Office

Setting the Japanese Calendar

Head: Masato Katayama

Setting the Japanese Calendar

The most important role of the Ephemeris Computation Office is to publish the Calendar and Ephemeris, which is one of NAOJ’s raisons d’être. To this end, we predict various heavenly phenomena, first and foremost the apparent positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets; but also the Solar Terms, including the vernal and autumnal equinoxes; sunrise and sunset times; moonrise and moonset times; solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, and the transits of planets across the solar disk. Because there is great interest in calendrical information closely related to everyday life, this material is always made readily available through the Rika Nenpyo (Chronological Scientific Tables), the Ephemeris Computation Office website, etc.

In addition, we are making the important historical documents (currently Japanese only) in the possession of NAOJ accessible to the Public through cooperation with the Library.

Chief of the Ephemeris Computation Office: Masato Katayama

Activities

Publication of the Calendar and Ephemeris

We publish information about various heavenly phenomena, such as the apparent positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets.

Release of the Reki Yoko

Particularly important information from the calendar and ephemeris is selected, and an outline of next year’s calendar is published in the first official gazette in February each year.

Compilation of the Calendrical Section of the Rika Nenpyo

As the most trusted “handbook of natural sciences” in Japan, the Rika Nenpyo, with its more than 90 years of history, is published through cooperation with numerous research institutes.

Library Unit

A Hub Library for Astronomy Research in Japan

Head: Mizuho Tamefusa

A Hub Library for Astronomy Research in Japan

We collect, curate, and preserve books, magazines, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and various other technical materials on astronomy, space-science, and related fields from both inside and outside of Japan. We also have general books. These references cover a wide range from the latest up-to-date scientific journals to important documents from the Edo Era.

Reading rooms are located on the 1st and 2nd floors of the South Building. You can examine our books at your leisure in these quiet rooms. The primary users are NAOJ members, collaborators, and students. But on weekdays (excluding national holidays), the library is also open to members of other institutions and the general public. In addition, cooperating with the libraries in NAOJ observatories scattered across Japan, we loan materials to libraries at universities and institutes throughout the country, and mail photocopies (for a fee) to people who cannot come to a library. We also hold regular exhibitions of important historical documents at the Observatory History Museum in combination with the Ephemeris Computation Office.

Chief of the Library Unit: Mizuho Tamefusa

Activities

Storing Domestic and International Books on Astronomy and Related Fields

Opening the Library to the General Public

On weekdays, members of the public are free to use the library.

Preservation and Exhibition of Important Historical Documents

We store about 3000 books, including, Japanese and Chinese books especially those preserved by the Tenmonkata (Astronomer for the Edo Shogunate), almanacs, and occidental books.

Digital Journals for use by NAOJ Researchers

We offer more than 5000 digital journal titles centered on astronomy, space-sciences, and related fields.

Publications Office

We introduce NAOJ through easy to understand publications.

Head: Toshio Fukushima

We introduce NAOJ through easy to understand publications.

What kind of place is NAOJ? What does it do? Using various approaches such as beautiful pictures of celestial objects or vivid celestial object videos, stories demystifying the Universe, and depictions of the researchers who even see their research in their dreams; we communicate the appeal of NAOJ and astronomy to the people throughout not just Japan, but the world, through enjoyable pamphlets and public relations magazines packed with information, as well as harnessing the power of the digital publications trend. This is our role in the Publications Office.

At times we also include complicated academic papers or serious statistics, but normally we rephrase research results which seem a little complicated to make them easy for the readers to understand. There are various projects underway to make fun, lighthearted manga such as “ALMAr’s Adventure, Soraryuden: Legend of the Sky Dragon.” Please take a look at NAOJ’s pamphlets and other documents.

Chief of the Publications Office: Toshio Fukushima

Activities

Issuing the “Annual Report of NAOJ” and “Publications of NAOJ”

We produce the “Annual Report of NAOJ” and “Publications of NAOJ” as needed.

NAOJ News

Monthly issues introduce NAOJ research results and topics.

Pamphlet

We update the Japanese pamphlet annually and the English pamphlet every 2 years.

Other Printed Materials

We produce calendars, posters, leaflets, and other assorted printed materials for public relations /outreach and education.

Office for Astronomy Outreach

Astronomy for Everyone - In Cooperation with the IAU -

Supervising Director: Hidehiko Agata

Astronomy for Everyone! - In Cooperation with the IAU –

In FY 2012, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and NAOJ concluded an agreement to establish the IAU’s Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) at NAOJ Mitaka Campus. The Office began operating as part of the Public Relations Center from FY 2014.

An IAU Outreach Coordinator, Lina Canas (from Portugal), leads the activities with the support of Japanese staff.

We develop cooperative relationships with the National Outreach Contacts (NOC’s which serve as windows for outreach in each country) and are in charge of compiling and publishing the CAPjournal. Furthermore, we promote the Astronomy Translation Network and are responsible for various international events and campaigns such as the “IAU 100 project”, “Inspiring Stars”, and “IAU Symposiums”. As communication activities, we issue the IAU-OAO Newsletter twice a month, create informational materials including pamphlets, videos, and content for the IAU website; manage the IAU’s social media; and cooperate with NAOJ’s international relations and outreach activities.

Chief of the Office for Astronomy Outreach: Hidehiko Agata

Activities

Connecting Countries – Together with NOC’s in each Country

The IAU selects NOC’s (National Outreach Contacts) for each country and the OAO conducts astronomy outreach activities through the NOC network.

Publishing a Journal for Astronomy Communicators

We publish a peer-reviewed journal focused on astronomy outreach and science communication twice a year.

Making Astronomy Materials Accessible in Many Languages

The Astronomy Translation Network is a global volunteer network that translates astronomy materials into various languages. We now have about 400 volunteers working in several groups to translate each language.

The 100 Year Anniversary of the IAU

We are promoting the IAU 100 projects as one of the implementing organizations of the IAU 100 anniversary project in cooperation with the IAU 100 Secretariats established at the IAU secretariat and Leiden University. In addition to international distribution of NAOJ telescope kits, we are responsible for the three projects “Inspiring Stars”, “Dark Skies for All”, and “Name ExoWorlds II”.

Introducing the Concept of “Inclusion” into the Astronomy Community

We hosted “Inspiring Stars” with tactile exhibitions enjoyable by everyone regardless of whether or not they have visual impairment and held workshops in different countries.

Informing People – Through Sending out the IAU Outreach Newsletter

Anyone can read the “IAU Astronomy Outreach Newsletter” issued twice a month by the OAO. It delivers the latest information from around the world, covering everything from local events to international activities.

Connecting to People – Through Social Media

The OAO distributes astronomy outreach material, particularly through Facebook and twitter, to interact directly with people around the world.

Explaining the Astronomy Topics that Everyone Wants to Know About

In addition to simple explanations of the latest astronomy topics, we also provide answers for questions the IAU has received from many people around the world over the years, for example, “What are the effects of light pollution?” or “How do I become an astronomer?”

Contact

Public Relations Center

2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, JAPAN Google Map

South Building 3F/2F/1F

Contact us