Astronomy Outreach Workshop

Table of contents

1. Astronomy and Observing

1.1. Definitions

What is “Astronomy”?, Some definitions of astronomy, Why bother doing astronomy?, Who uses astronomy?, What is “Science”?, A definition of science, A gentle introduction to philosophy, Contemporary philosophy, Epistemology: the nature of knowledge, Metaphysics: the nature of reality, Science and extraordinary claims, The development of science, The nature of science and philosophy, Who uses science?, Some big questions in astronomy

1.2. The Universe as seen from Earth

Earth as our observing platform, What can be seen from Earth?

1.3. Astronomical hardware

Optics, The human eye, How does a telescope work?, Accessories, How to use a telescope & binoculars, Observing aids, How to choose a telescope & binoculars, Binoculars, Choosing a telescope, Where to buy telescopes and binoculars, Astrophotography basics.

1.4. Making observations

What kinds of observations can be made?, What types of objects can be observed?, Selecting an observing site, Making observations, Recording and sharing observations

2. Outreach and Sky Guiding

2.1. Definitions

Development of science communication, Who communicates science?, Why do science communication?, Modes of science communication, The audience, The message to be communicated, Evaluation and feedback, How to grow as an outreach practitioner, Communication in the always-online era

2.2. Astronomy outreach in practice

Your outreach organization, Types of astronomy outreach events, Planning an event, Advertizing the event, Materials, Things to consider, Working with an audience, After the event

3. Astronomy in South Africa

Development of astronomical thinking
The earliest stargazers
Measuring the sky
Modern constellations
Scientific astronomy in South Africa
Astronomy as a career
Astronomy resources
Light pollution in South Africa

Workshop goals

This workshop will help you become:

  • a better observer,
  • a more engaging sky guide,
  • a more skilled communicator, and
  • a more informed South African.

As an observer, you will be able to:

  • find objects of interest in the sky,
  • plan an observing session,
  • use a telescope and accessories,
  • make observations, and
  • record & submit observations.

As a sky guide, you will be:

  • familiar with the basic constellations and bright stars,
  • familiar with the Sun, Moon, and other sky objects
  • familiar with atmospheric phenomena,
  • able to determine when and where to see these, and
  • choose the best way to point these out to the public.

As a communicator, you will learn best practices for:

  • planning an outreach event,
  • giving a public lecture,
  • running an activity, and
  • conducting naked-eye & telescope viewing.

As a more informed citizen, you will

  • be more familiar with science and astronomy,
  • be more knowledgeable about the development of astronomy in South Africa, and
  • be more aware of South Africa’s astronomical heritage.

Protecting South Africa’s astronomical heritage