IAO Exam 2021 - International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO)

Bookmark added to your notes.
View Notes

IAO Exam - Registration, Exam Date, Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Result and Other Details

The International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) is a yearly Astronomy Olympiad conducted for high school students aged between 14-18. In 1996, the Eurasian Astronomical Society founded this popular International Astronomical Olympiad. The exam is an intellectual competition among the participating students testing their knowledge about science and astronomy. Every year, the International Astronomy Olympiad 2021 is conducted in different parts of the world.

IAO Exam 2021

IAO in Details 

The IOA or the International Astronomical Olympiad is divided into three rounds. Participating students must go through the three-round process to qualify the exam. The three rounds are as follows

  • A Theoretical Round: In this round, students are tested on their theoretical knowledge about astronomy. The questions are concentrated on the various theoretical aspects related to Astrophysics, Astronomy, Space and Planetary Physics. Students may also be needed to solve hypothetical questions involving the basic principles of Astrophysics. If you are interested in Space and Astrophysics, this is the perfect platform to test your in-depth knowledge about the subject. 

  • Practical Round: Here, students can derive inferences from data and are given problems to be solved based on the dataset's result observations. Data analysis to derive solutions and inferences consist of a big part of the Olympiad exam's practice round. 

  • Observational Round: This round consists of recognizing the stars, planets, constellations, estimating star magnitude, working with a telescope, calculating the angular distance and various other observational techniques. 

The Mode of IAO 

As opposed to the general belief, the IAO is not conducted to test students' ability to memorize facts, knowledge of pre-established facts or speed of calculation. All the necessary data and facts related to the topics are provided to students to work with them. The IAO is conducted to test the independent thinking, imagination and creativity of students, which needs to be applied to Astrophysics. 

Each participating student is encouraged to approach the given problems independently. It is also essential to apply logical thinking, make supposition and create suitable models and multi-way calculations. 

The exam also aims to judge the student's analytical abilities and innovative methods of approaching the problems to each conclusion. This is appreciated by the jury of the International Astronomy Olympiad.

The Aim of IAO 

  • Propagating professional careers in the field of astronomy. The organization believes in providing opportunities to best students to showcase their capabilities and interests in astronomy. 

  • Spreading astronomy knowledge among as many students as possible and popularizing the vast field of natural science study. 

  • Helping students know the real avenues of working and research in the branch of astronomy. The exam also helps in the exchange of ideas between astronomers, students and teachers. 

  • Stimulating the imagination and creativity related to astrophysics among students and stipulating a spirit of friendship and collective working. 

How to Participate in IAO from India 

If you want to participate in the International Astronomy Olympiad from India, you must go through a selection process. A team of three is selected for the International Astronomy Olympiad India. Throughout the section process, the level of questions and the pattern is as per the international standards. The first exam is conducted by the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT). They select around 200 students who are eligible for the second round of Indian National Astronomy Olympiad, conducted by Homi Bhabha Center for Scientific Education (HBCSE). Thereafter, the National Council of Science Museum (NCSM) selects candidates for the orientation and the selection camp. 

(Image to be added soon)

Preparations for International Astronomy Olympiad

Students who have an inherent interest in Physics and have an inclination towards Astrophysics must show ambition for the International Astronomy Olympiad. There are several good books on astronomy available that prepare students for the Olympiad. These prepare you for the theory part of the exam. Some of the books are as follows 

  • Schaum’s Outline of Astronomy by Stacey Palen

  • An introduction to Modern Astronomy by Bradley W Carroll and Dake A 

  • Astronomy: Principles and Practices Fourth Edition by A.E Roy

  • Russian books like Surdin, Ugolnikov, Ivanov

The International Astronomy Olympiad 2021

The International Astronomical Olympiad 2021 was scheduled to be held in November 2021 in Italy. However, the Euro-Asian Astronomical Society has announced that due to the current Covid19 situation, it is impossible to conduct the exam in its traditional format in Italy or any other city. Due to this, the exam may be postponed to 2021 and will be held in Matera, Italy. 

Let's Take a Look At The Table for a Comprehensive Look 



Mode of exam 



5 hours for theory and five hours for practical.

Medium of instruction

English and Russian, also translated into the first language of participating countries.

Types of Question

MSQ and subjective.

Age group division 

15-16 years and 17-18 years. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which Countries Can Participate in the International Astronomical Olympiad?

Any country that has an ANRO organized during the last ten years or from where a team was sent to IAO in the previous five years can participate in the International Astronomical Olympiad. If any new country wishes for participation in IAO, the decision to accept the country's request is made by the Olympic Coordinating Council. The new countries must abide by the set regulations. Every year, the host organization of the IAO sends relevant information to the National representative Persons of the countries that have previously participated. The countries may then request for the invitation for participation from the host organization. On approval, they can participate in the Olympiad.

2. How Many Students And Team Ladders Can Participate in IAO From Each Country?

Each country with a registered ANRAO sends a delegation of five contestants. Three students can participate in the Junior Olympiad and two for the senior group. Additionally, they can send two team leaders to the IAO. Other countries may also send three contestants; it is divided as two for the junior group and one for the senior group. There is a provision of sending observers.  However, the maximum number of observers from a country may be guided by the Olympic Coordinating Council (OCC) and LOC's decision. The rules are the same for new countries wanting to send participants for the Olympiad.