Presentation #221.05 in the session Education and Public Engagement for Upcoming Eclipses and Community Scientists.
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 processes 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 Challenge, an innovative opportunity for public participation in authentic astronomical imaging. Each seasonal challenge features a deep space object. For this summer’s challenge, we have selected the Phantom Galaxy (M74). We include multiple datasets from Webb, Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and XMM-Newton. Participants can also acquire their own FITS image data of M74 using the MicroObservatory Robotic Telescope Network. The challenge includes video briefings from astrophysicists on the science of M74, 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. Evaluation has documented participant gains in interest, knowledge, and skills related to astronomical imaging. There will be an additional focus for this summer’s challenge on engaging organizers of Webb community events, who will be facilitating activities around the anniversary of Webb’s Early Release Observations. Participants submit their digitally enhanced astrophoto creations for review, and standout images are selected to receive comments from NASA subject matter experts. 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.