FM14: IAU’s Role in Global Astronomy Outreach

The Natural History Museum in Vienna

The Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria. (© Bwag/CC-BY-SA-4.0)

The GA in Vienna provides an important opportunity for research astronomers and outreach professionals to come together to consider the IAU’s role in global astronomy outreach. The goal of Focus Meeting 14 is to enable and coordinate outreach for a better world. We will share what is already being done and discuss what we could do better going forward.

The meeting begins on 22 August with a public talk on how to raise awareness about the problem of light pollution, followed by a social event starting at 18:30, with a drinks reception and guided tour of the Natural History Museum — home to the world’s largest collection of meteorites. Those attending FM14 sessions who wish to attend the social event can register online or at the IAU booth in the Exhibition.

On 23 August, the programme will feature four sessions on the following themes:

  • Emerging collaborations, best practices and support structures;
  • Communicating astronomy in our changing world;
  • The IAU National Outreach Contacts (NOC) network — coordinating and catalysing astronomy outreach worldwide; and
  • Outreach action and advocacy in the context of the IAU’s 2020–2030 Strategic Plan.

These sessions will feature a mix of invited and contributed talks, some of which will be in the form of panel discussions. Here are some of our featured speakers:

  • Padma Yanamandra-Fisher (Space Science Institute, California, US) will introduce the Pro-Am Collaborative Astronomy (PACA) Project and share strategies for successful professional-amateur observing campaigns;
  • Giulia Iafrate (Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, Italy) will discuss how to make use of virtual observatory resources for education and outreach;
  • Samantha Blickhan (Zooniverse, US) will describe best practices in citizen science and how “crowdsourcing” can transform research and public engagement;
  • Mark SubbaRao (Adler Planetarium, Chicago, US) will show how big datasets can be useful in planetariums and museums; and
  • Ewine van Dishoeck (Leiden Observatory, Netherlands, and incoming IAU President) will provide an overview of the new IAU Strategic Plan 2020–2030 and the Union’s role in communicating astronomy with the public.

On Friday, 24 August, we’ll have a poster session dedicated to the topic of global astronomy outreach. As the outcome of Focus Meeting 14, we look forward to participants recommending ways the IAU and its members can better advance astronomy outreach worldwide.

SZE-LEUNG CHEUNG is the IAU’s International Outreach Coordinator and the Editor-in-Chief of CAPjournal; he is based in Tokyo, Japan.


WILLIAM (BILL) WALLER is a science teacher in Massachusetts, US, and the Editor-in-Chief of The Galactic Inquirer.