It is exactly 400 years since Galileo turned a telescope to the night sky and made discoveries that changed our understanding of our position in the Universe. In the same year, 1609, Johannes Kepler published Astronomia Nova, a work which laid out laws governing the movement of the planets. To commemorate the double whammy, the United Nations has designated 2009 International Year of Astronomy. Events are planned around the globe. Not least here in Switzerland, which despite its small size, has an enviable record in astronomy and astrophysics. Vincent Landon reports.