Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 – 23 September 2022
Europlanet Science Congress 2022
Palacio de Congresos de Granada, Spain
18 September – 23 September 2022
Public engagement via live online astronomy events: Sharing experiences, looking ahead


Public engagement via live online astronomy events: Sharing experiences, looking ahead
Convener: Graham Jones | Co-conveners: Claudia Mignone, Helen Usher
| Mon, 19 Sep, 17:30–18:30 (CEST)|Room Andalucia 3
| Attendance Mon, 19 Sep, 18:45–20:15 (CEST) | Display Mon, 19 Sep, 08:30–Wed, 21 Sep, 11:00|Poster area Level 2

Session assets

Discussion on Slack

Orals: Mon, 19 Sep | Room Andalucia 3

Chairperson: Graham Jones
Federica Duras, Giulia Mantovani, Claudia Mignone, Livia Giacomini, Sandro Bardelli, Federico Di Giacomo, and Gianluigi Filippelli

Il cielo in salotto” (in English, “The sky in your living room”) is a format for live streaming events of astronomical phenomena devised in 2020 by EduINAF (the official online magazine for education and public outreach of the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, INAF), with the aim of engaging the general public and students with astronomy and space science remotely in the various waves and isolation periods of the pandemic. 

Originally designed to broadcast live telescope observations from the INAF network of observatories, the format evolved in the last year to include 3D models of celestial objects and virtual tours of the INAF institutes, museum and observatories. These events are enriched with live interviews and discussion with INAF researchers and supported by large-scale public engagement campaigns conducted together with space enthusiasts, amateur astronomy associations and other partners. On the occasion of a partial solar eclipse, we also involved telescopes from other European countries (that were better located to observe the event) in partnership with Europlanet.

In this talk, we will present some of the technical and logistical solutions we adopted for the broadcast. Moreover, we will look in detail at the results of a focus group conducted on the latest event (the “SuperMoon” of 13 July 2021) of this format, comparing with results from the very first live event (during the “SuperMoon” of 26 May 2021) and present lessons learnt from two years of experience, that could be of interest to colleagues organising similar events in other countries.

How to cite: Duras, F., Mantovani, G., Mignone, C., Giacomini, L., Bardelli, S., Di Giacomo, F., and Filippelli, G.: Il cielo in salotto: lessons learnt from livestreaming astronomical events in Italy, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-907,, 2022.

Miguel Pérez-Ayúcar, Sandra Benitez Herrera, David Gonzalez, and Joe Zender

CESAR (Cooperation through Education in Science and Astronomy Research) is an educational ESA (European Space Agency) initiative whose main objective is to engage school students with the wonders of astronomy and, more generally, science and technology. Through CESAR, students (supported by their teachers) have access to telescopes, tools, and the expertise of ESA scientists to make real astronomical observations, collect scientific data and analyze the results, applying the same methodology used in real life by professional scientists.

As part of CESAR educational activities, the project has been covering since 2012 special astronomical events related to space objects transits (Venus transit 2012, live Sun transmissions, Total Solar Eclipses 2017 and 2019, Mercury Transit 2016, and ISS transits). Solar transits are rare astronomical events of profound historical importance and with an enormous potential to engage nowadays students and general public into Planetary Sciences and Space. Mercury transits occur only about every 13-14 times per century. Total solar eclipses occur around 18 months apart somewhere on Earth, but they reoccur only every 3-4 centuries on the same location. Although its historic scientific relevance (examples, to measure the distances in the solar system, to observe the solar corona) has diminished since humanity roams our solar system with robotic spacecrafts, transits remain a spectacular astronomical event that is used very effectively to engage general public and students to Science and Space in general.

The driving activity during these engaging educational and outreach events is a live interactive hangout, connecting students and general public around the globe (Europe, Chile, USA, …), with the remote observing teams and the scientists/engineers at ESAC (European Space Astronomy Center). Presentations and lectures by experts in the field are scheduled with live connections to the observing sites. Questions and answers sessions allow world-wide audience to interact with the scientists and engineers. Live images are acquired with CESAR instrumentation and broadcast live in streaming, and archived for offline access. CESAR has collaborated for these activities with multiple institutions: Spanish schools/universities, ESA Education and ESA Communications offices, worl-class observatories (Teide, Cerro Paranal, La Silla) and ESA projects (Venus Express, Bepicolombo and Solar Orbiter).

In this paper we explain how these public educational and outreach events are planned, created and executed, what activities they comprise, and the follow up activities expected for future events.

How to cite: Pérez-Ayúcar, M., Benitez Herrera, S., Gonzalez, D., and Zender, J.: The CESAR educational special events: live coverage of solar events for public engagement, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-49,, 2022.

Helen Usher and Scott Vaughan

During 2021 we started a project called Comet Chasers, to work with Primary schools in South Wales, bringing astronomy-related activities into the classroom to teach core skills.

During the period of the project (on 10 June 2021) there was a partial solar eclipse (around 22% in the area), so activities around that event were also included. 

Obviously, the ideal scenario was that students would be able to view the full duration of the eclipse using a range of safe/specialist equipment, making and logging their observations for analysis later.  Planned observations included using various filters (white light, CaK and Ha) to see different solar features; direct viewing through solar glasses; and indirect viewing through projection with Keplerian Sunspotters.

With a clear sky it would also be possible to use the Sunspotters for activities measuring the rotation of the Earth – with some nice maths involved.

BUT, Wales is not renowned for its good weather, particularly when something as great as a solar eclipse is happening!  So backup activities were planned.

The availability of live streams from across the eclipse path was a huge advantage, so it was planned to stream those into the classroom.  But just watching a solar eclipse develop over a few hours might not hold the attention of the 10-year-olds in the class, and it did not include much opportunity for learning either.  So a varied programme was developed, starting with some of the science of eclipses, with appropriate hands-on activities, then using the functionality in Stellarium Web to simulate the eclipse from any location, and to view at higher speed.  Students would simulate what would they be seeing if they were outside and the sky was clear.  In addition, they could simulate the view from the locations of the live streams – choosing a location, changing Stellarium settings, matching the simulation with what they were seeing on the live stream and investigating what would happen next/or had just happened.  It would also be a fun activity for them to simulate what maybe a relative would see from their location somewhere else….

The day before the eclipse was gloriously sunny, the day of the eclipse was…. cloudy.

But the event was still a success.  To quote a student asked about what was most interesting from the Comet Chasers project:  ’I found the solar eclipse most interesting when we were able to see it even though our luck was terrible because it was cloudy and rainy.’

We will present how the different activities worked in practice, more feedback from students and their teacher, and what we learnt that could be useful for other projects wishing to use mixed approaches for live events.



The Comet Chasers project was administered by Techniquest with initial funding from a Science and Technology Facilities Council SPARKS Award. Access to the telescope facilities in the Las Cumbres Observatory network is provided through the support of the Faulkes Telescope Project.

It is now delivered by a partnership of professional and amateur astronomers, the Open Uiniversity and Cardiff University, working closely with educators.

How to cite: Usher, H. and Vaughan, S.: Using Live Feeds in the Classroom: A case study from a partial solar eclipse in cloudy Wales, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-1240,, 2022.

Mert Acar and Alper Ateş

Introduction: ISTEK Belde Schools Science center consists of an astronomy museum, a planetarium and an observatory. The center is an extention of ISTEK Foundation dedicated to serving over 12million residents of Istanbul. Since it’s conception in 2015 over 100 000 visitors have been enjoyed the astronomy museum, wathced planetarium shows and observed the celestial objects through telescopes. In the first 5 years the center provided support for the local schools  and free public lectures. In the beginning of 2020 the strict quarantine regulations put the science centers activities on hold. This period saw a major change in the methods for engaging the public. The museum is photographed 360 degree lenses and carried into virtual medium. Online visits, lectures and planetarium shows took the place of classic museum activities when no physical visits were possible.

Method: In the past 20 years virtual tours became more and more sophisticated and popular by providing value visual information from the comfort of home. The technology used to photograph and stitch the images together enabled wide range of providers whether they are curators, educators or realtors to present their materiel online. By the covid outbreak ISTEK Science Center closed it’s doors for up to then an unknown amount of time. The displays and models are photographed and the entire museum inventory is carried into an online portal. The virtual visits were scheduled in the usual fashion; school groups connected a main computer operated by the curator and by using GoogleMeet the curator gave the tour in the virtual medium. This way much more people were able to hear the information and watch the planetarium shows.

Three main software are used in online presentations: StarryNight, Layered Earth, SanalVR software. StarryNight and Layered Earth are licenced presentation tools purchased in 2014; SanalVR is the virtual tour environment.

Figure 1- Images of virtual presentation and lecture.

Figure 2- Images of virtual museum tool SanalVR.

Reception: During the covid outbreak the intense pressure to satify the curriculum requirements put a hold on extracirrucular activities. The trafic was less than regular seasons yet some groups were able to enjoy online activities.

Figure 3- Number of visitors by years. 

Project Sustainiblity: The online museum provides an opportunity to reach out of city school groups. Beginning from 2022-2023 academic year the museum will reserve ¼ of time for school groups from all around the country. The online tools and experience acquired will be used in the coming years as long as the interest is alive.

How to cite: Acar, M. and Ateş, A.: A museum carried into virtual medium: ISTEK Belde Schools Science Center, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-798,, 2022.

Alessandro Marchini

In 2009 Elisa, a student of Physics and Advanced Technologies, could not access the dome of the University of Siena Astronomical Observatory because she is forced on a wheelchair by disability. “Advanced technologies” helped her, though. Between 2010 and 2012 the Observatory instrumentation was completely updated, but, most importantly, was fully automated, and made remotely controllable trough an Internet connection.

Since 2012 the Observatory is a laboratory where university and high-school students learn to study the starry sky and how to use the most recent instruments and technologies for astronomical image acquisition and analysis. Through this acquired knowledge, small projects focused on asteroids, variable stars and extrasolar planets research can be conducted by a wide range of students, academic organizations and enthusiast citizens.

In August 2015, Sara Marullo, a student in Physics and Advanced Technologies at the University of Siena who lived very far from the observatory, managed to conduct a series of observations, required by her internship, from her home. During an asteroid study session, in a case of perfect serendipity, she discovered a peculiar binary star. A few months later, that discovery of a new double star became the topic of her thesis and of an article published in the Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

A famous Italian newspaper writes about the binary star discovered by Sara Marullo, and titles: “I discovered a star from my living room”.

Thanks to the automation implemented ten years ago, it has been possible to face the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic without interrupting teaching, research, and scientific dissemination activities. University students were able to perform remote imaging sessions for their internships, while high school students participated remotely in astrophysics orientation projects.

In April 2020, Leonella Filippa Saya, another student of the course in Physics, although in full pandemic lockdown, was able to finish her university internship and discuss her thesis on the photometric study and 3D modeling of the asteroid (118) Peitho. Her thesis allowed her to appear as the author of an article published in the Minor Planet Bulletin.

Leonella Filippa Saya discussing her thesis online during the pandemic lockdown.

Many high school students were able to participate remotely in the university guidance course offered by the observatory, entitled "Hunting for ancient photons, astronomy in the digital age".

An image of the Great Orion Nebula captured in February 2021 by the students of Liceo “Sarrocchi” in Siena and Liceo "Galilei" in Erba (Como) via remote operation of the telescope from their homes.

Worthy of note is a group of fifteen students from the Liceo “Galilei” in Erba (Como), in Northern Italy, who in June 2020 remotely attended some observing sessions of the asteroid (58) Concordia, and actively participated in data analysis. For their efforts, their names were mentioned in the acknowledgments on a scientific article published in the Minor Planet Bulletin.

The article published in the Minor Planet Bulletin with the acknowledgments to the students of Liceo "Galilei" in Erba (Como)

A Como newspaper writes about the guidance project in astrophysics carried out by the students of Liceo "Galilei".

During the entire lockdown period it was also possible to offer many live shows on the observatory's social profiles; these dissemination activities allowed thousands of connected citizens to follow the Observatory’s  scientific research, and stimulated them to observe the starry sky from their own windows or gardens. Many of these online initiatives have been organized for particular events such as the arrival of a comet, the close passage of an asteroid, or the super-moon.

One of the most followed live shows, with over 60,000 views on YouTube and Facebook, was the one organized for the spectacular Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on December 21, 2020.


The live show carried out for the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction on December 21, 2020.

While we are fully aware of how much more engaging the physical presence of students and researchers is, since it allows greater empathy between teachers and students or between researchers and the public, the pandemic has forced the astronomical observatory to successfully continue its activities in its purest form, as an instrument: an example of how a serious problem can be transformed into an opportunity thanks to the technology developed over the years.

How to cite: Marchini, A.: An automated Astrophysics lab for everybody: the activities of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Siena during two years of Covid-19 pandemic., Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-1099,, 2022.

Dissemination of astrophysics from the IAA-CSIC on the internet: from dramatized video blogs to Twitch
Emilio José García Gómez-Caro
Display time: Mon, 19 Sep 08:30–Wed, 21 Sep 11:00

Posters: Mon, 19 Sep, 18:45–20:15 | Poster area Level 2

Graham Jones

What are the notable forthcoming astronomical events for “the person in the street”? We present a brief overview of notable eclipses, appulses, and other groupings involving the Moon and the naked-eye planets. We’ll also make use of some of our other databases to answer questions such as: what is the biggest solar eclipse in terms of population coverage?

How to cite: Jones, G.: Coming soon to a sky near you: notable naked-eye astronomical events 2022–2040, Europlanet Science Congress 2022, Granada, Spain, 18–23 Sep 2022, EPSC2022-1253,, 2022.