Amateur astronomers as public outreach partners

Bennett, Michael A. (2008) Amateur astronomers as public outreach partners. In: Innovation in Astronomy Education. Cambridge University Press, pp. 106-109.

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Amateur astronomers involved in public outreach represent a huge, largely untapped source of energy and enthusiasm to help astronomers reach the general public. Even though many astronomy educators already work with amateur astronomers, the potential educational impact of amateur astronomers as public outreach ambassadors remains largely unrealized. Surveys and other work by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in the US show that more than 20% of astronomy club members routinely participate in public engagement and educational events, such as public star parties, classroom visits, work with youth and community groups, etc. Amateur astronomers who participate in public outreach events are knowledgeable about astronomy and passionate about sharing their hobby with other people. They arc very willing to work with astronomers and astronomy educators. They want useful materials, support, and training. In the USA, the ASP operates "The Night Sky Network," funded by NASA. We have developed specialized materials and training, tested and used by amateur astronomers. This project works with nearly 200 local astronomy clubs in SO states to help them conduct more effective public outreach events. In just two years it has resulted in nearly 3600 outreach events, reaching nearly 300 000 people, In this presentation we examine key success factors, lessons learned, and suggest how astronomers outside the US can recruit and work with "outreach amateur astronomers" in their own countries.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Astronomy Education Research
Depositing User: Dr Michael Fitzgerald
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 05:37
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2018 06:08

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