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The UCLA Planetarium: Educating the West Los Angeles Community about the Universe

Presentation #345.06 in the session Public Outreach Resources and Programs — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
The UCLA Planetarium: Educating the West Los Angeles Community about the Universe

The UCLA Planetarium hosts star shows and lectures on astronomy topics, educating UCLA and the broader Los Angeles community about science and the wonders of the night sky. It serves over 4000 people per year, as UCLA Astronomy’s largest outreach effort. We host private shows for visiting school groups (30% of our attendees), shows for UCLA astronomy courses (20%), and weekly public shows for the community at large (50%). Our planetarium and its events are run by graduate students, who also maintain its historic projectors and dome. In the near future, we plan to improve and expand our outreach efforts in two specific ways. Our outreach efforts are free for educational groups, but we currently do not provide travel support for visiting schools. We plan to actively reach out to school groups from underserved communities and hope to raise funds to cover these schools’ field trips and travel expenses. We also plan to improve our science communication effectiveness, with strategies for improving volunteer recruitment, training volunteers on effective public speaking skills, and improving the quality of our existing repository of presentations. While these in person events have been on hold during the ongoing pandemic, we have developed ways to serve our audience virtually. In Summer 2020, we hosted our first “virtual” planetarium show on YouTube Live, with over 1,700 viewers on the livestream and over 7,300 total viewers, and have been providing monthly live streams since. We welcome any suggestions or ideas to help us improve our planetarium outreach efforts!

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