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Summer 2022 NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges: Inviting Learners to Create Their Own Carina Nebula with Real NASA Data

Presentation #229.04 in the session Resources and Programs for Public Outreach.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Summer 2022 NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges: Inviting Learners to Create Their Own Carina Nebula with Real NASA Data

The NASA’s Universe of Learning (NASA’s UoL) project creates and delivers science-driven, audience-driven resources and experiences designed to engage learners of all ages and backgrounds in exploring the universe for themselves. The competitively-selected project represents a unique partnership between the Space Telescope Science Institute, Caltech/IPAC, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and is part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program. Project objectives include increasing learners’ understanding of the process of science and key topics in astronomy, and increasing the role of NASA Astrophysics subject matter experts as partners.

To help meet these objectives, NASA’s UoL has created NASA’s Astrophoto Challenges, an innovative series of opportunities for public participation in authentic astronomical imaging. Each seasonal set of challenges features target object(s) in deep space. For this summer’s challenges, those targets are the Carina Nebula and Eta Carinae. Participants can either acquire their own FITS image data of that target using robotic telescopes from the NASA’s UoL partners, or they can work with real archival data from NASA Astrophysics missions (or both). The challenges include video briefings from astrophysicists on the science behind the target objects, and instructions for participants on how to visualize their multi-wavelength data with a version of the JS9 image analysis software adapted for novice learners.

NASA’s Astrophoto Challenge opportunities are disseminated through partner networks of libraries, museums, and community organizations, with an additional focus for this season’s challenges on engaging organizers of Webb community events. Participants submit their digitally enhanced astrophoto creations for review, and standout images are selected to receive comments from NASA subject matter experts. Evaluation has documented participant gains in interest, knowledge, and skills related to astronomical imaging. This presentation is based on work performed as part of the NASA’s Universe of Learning project and is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A.

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