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Sep 9, 2010

Three steps to reach your target in astronomy communication and outreach

Tuesday, at the IYA2009 session from JENAM 2010, I had to deliver a presentation on the activities done in 2009 by the Astroclub Bucharest. Since I didn't want it to be just another description of activities with nice pictures, I decided to build a case for non-traditional ways of doing outreach.

This seemed like an easy and cool thing to do until I realised my talk was coming after several ones on mentoring and finding role models for teenagers/students today, while I was presenting a poster with top models next to telescopes(!). But then I realised...I just had to set a different challenge: instead of looking for role models, how about we use the existing "bad" ones for doing outreach and education?

The presentation doesn't really speak for itself as it had a lot of speech wrapped around, but I'll try to give you an executive summary :) and I'd love to answer questions or comments.

Once you know who you are and what's you want to achieve by communicating astronomy, there are three steps you have to take, in this order:

1. Research your target and find key insights about its lifestyle: where they go out, what they read, where they go on holidays etc. This will tell you where you will find them without the slightest effort of bringing them there. This may mean you'll have to take your scope out to a square with street art or make a projection of a planet in a drive-in cinema.

2. Choose the right channel - that is the channel they use, not the one that you use. Have you ever considered teenage magazines? Nobody reads the school magazine...

3. Speak their language if you want them to listen and understand. How about you get updated on some of the jargon out there?

More details here...