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Astronomy Outreach in the time of COVID-19: Innovations and New Directions

Presentation #412.03 in the session “Education and Public Engagement I: Public Engagement and Citizen Science”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Astronomy Outreach in the time of COVID-19: Innovations and New Directions

As part of an ongoing project to understand the current state of amateur astronomy, we have talked to dozens of individuals and reviewed online and event artifacts from across the world to better understand how the global pandemic has impacted traditional astronomy outreach of individuals and clubs. Within many countries, traditional astronomy club meetings, in person trainings, and in person outreach events were quickly cancelled in the spring following the overall mandated shutdowns. As individuals, clubs, and organizations grappled with how to move forward, online programming grew as a way to reach audiences and communities unable to travel or physically come together. Additionally, virtual star parties of all sizes brought enthusiasts together from all over the world. Non-contact outreach included neighborhood Solar System walks, publicly displayed viewing guides, and “bring your own binocular” community events. Trainings and conferences saw huge surges in attendance as online programming opened up opportunities to new audiences who had not been able to attend due to travel and financial restrictions. Overall, as the pandemic continues, many of the innovations in outreach created to mitigate rapid shutdown of event have become more permanent changes to increase the reach of outreach to and by amateur astronomers.

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