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Teaching Advocacy to Astronomers and Astrophysicists

Presentation #323.07 in the session “Education and Public Outreach II: Students, Teachers, and Education Resources”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Teaching Advocacy to Astronomers and Astrophysicists

Astronomy depends to a great extent on federal and international law. This dependency will only increase in the future. Despite this, congresspeople hear less from astronomers than other industries that, at times, hold divergent perspectives. Clearly, the AAS and related professional astronomical organizations engage in advocacy and lobbying on behalf of their members. That being said, opportunities exist for alternative and supplemental efforts from individuals and collectives. Indeed, federal agencies historically receive few submissions from the astronomy community. As an example, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”)received no comments raising concerns from the astronomy community in response to SpaceX’ Starlink licensing application. This void should and needs to be filled. We need to educate student, young professional, and amateur astronomers on the means to protect the dark skies. Building upon the presentation last Summer entitled “Advocacy for Astronomers andAstrophysicists,” this advanced iPoster will provide tools and techniques for actors within the astronomy community to voice their individual perspectives on applicable federal regulatory matters and educate others to do so. Beginning with a quick review of fundamentals, the presentation will focus specifically on satellite law in the context of astronomy and the means by which any individual can participate. More specifically, a detailed roadmap will be provided through which persuasive and viable arguments can be submitted to the applicable agencies. We will examine existing law relating to radio astronomy, orbital debris, and the quite scarce means to address light pollution emanating from satellites’ solar reflectivity. In each instance, we will discuss recent regulatory efforts and opportunities to voice concerns. With respect to light pollution, we will proceed through the elements within a comment filed in response to an applicable regulation and/or license application. Moreover, we will employ recent efforts to identify necessary metrics and parameters in the context of strategic advocacy. In short, a sourcebook will be presented to facilitate individual advocacy for astronomy and the future of space research among student, young professional, amateur, and, in short, all astronomers.


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