Events in the sky provide powerful outreach and engagement opportunities.
In recent years (particularly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic) many professional and amateur astronomy groups have begun (or intensified) live streaming events such as eclipses and conjunctions. While many of these efforts were initially aiming to provide sky watching and science outreach opportunities during the confinement conditions imposed by the pandemic, which hampered in-person visits to observatories, in the long term they offer an opportunity to broaden access to astronomical observations beyond the demographic groups that have been traditionally engaged in these activities.
The first aim of this session is for practitioners to share some of the lessons learned from these activities.
The second aim is to trigger a wider discussion about how the astronomy community can collaborate and capitalize on future astronomical events. (We are hoping this discussion will continue long after the conference has finished!)
We invite the astronomy outreach community to submit abstracts for talks and posters to be presented at the conference. We also envision a live-streamed event (exact timing TBD) to keep the conversation going, engaging all those members of the community who could not attend the conference in person.
Potential areas for presentation and discussion include — but are not limited to — the following topics.
- Appropriate kinds of astronomical events (eg, conjunctions)
- Appropriate kinds of platforms (eg, for live streaming)
- Ways to disseminate information (eg, how to engage the desired audience, how to get and keep followers)
- Doing actual science around unpredictable events (eg, comet observations)
- How to keep momentum going through a programme (eg, after the initial novelty)
- Linking to follow-up science activities and opportunities (eg remote observing)
- Linking online to offline (eg, balancing expectations from watching a live stream, to looking through an actual telescope)
- Smoothing the learning curve (eg, solving problems)
- Dealing with language issues (eg, engaging audiences that speak a different language, international collaborations on key events)
- Measuring impact (eg, follow-up & feedback)
- Coordination within the outreach community - networking for events
- Efforts to broaden access to star-gazing to more marginalised groups