Grzegorz Stachowski is the President of the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. We asked him about the story of the event!


This event series will be held 13th times this year, could you tell us about its origin, how did it all start?

„The event started in 2006 as a brunch of the international physics olympiad. People who were there , felt that it  should be important to separate astronomy and physics, because astronomy is different from physics in many ways. In 2007 we held the first International gathering of astrophysics in Thailand, which happened to be also the anniversary of the king. It was a big ceremony and Thailand was very happy to held this event. We started with about 20 countries, now we have almost 50.„

What is the purpose of the event?

„First of all it is a competition obviously, and it allow the best high school students from around the world to compete. But also its a way for the children to meet each other. Many children who are interested in astronomy have to learn by themselves, they may be living in a small town, they might be the only child from their school, who is interesting in astronomy, they feeling alone, so when they come here they suddenly find out that actually they are not alone at all. Hundreds of children from around the world are interested in the same thing. And they love it, and i think it’s great!

What is waiting for the competitors after the IOAA?

Lots of the children going to start study astronomy or astrophysics at a university because of the competition, and later they come back to support the event as a leader. 7 years now all team leaders were student, who participated before, gone away, done a degree in astronomy and then come back as team leaders, it is a continuing process and we really enjoy it.”