620   Insight talk

RAS200 - astronomy and geophysics reach out to new communities

2020 sees the Royal Astronomical Society – the oldest learned society covering
astronomy and geophysics in the world – celebrate its 200th anniversary. In the run up to
2020, the RAS initiated an outreach and engagement scheme aimed at bringing the society’s
sciences to new audiences, those who might not normally attend public lectures,
planetarium shows or even star-gazing evenings. Committing £1 million to the project, the
RAS deliberately sought out new partners who would take it out of its comfort zone with a
bottom-up funding scheme making up to £100k available for five-year projects. Competition
for the funding was fierce with just 12 projects funded out of more than 150 applications.
Starting in 2015, the Prince’s Trust has used astronomy to inspire young people who have
had some of the hardest starts in life. Carers who hardly ever get a break from their duties
are funded to spend weekends learning about the stars on the Scottish island of Coll. A new
planetarium show using Holst’s classic “Planet Suite” and modern adaptations brings the
heavens in Full-dome 360 animation to audiences via mobile planetaria. New courses for
adults who missed out on their education first time round have been developed. And Welsh
cultural festivals now resonate to poetry, dance and music inspired by astronomy.
Starting two years later, geophysics is being used to engage football crowds with science,
and prisoners are being helped maintain links with their families through astronomy. In
Cornwall, Galway and South Africa, artworks, trails and exhibitions are taking astronomy out
to local people. And young girls and women in the Girl Guides have new badges to work for.
All of these projects, too, are being adapted to suit people on the autistic spectrum. All
projects and the scheme as a whole are being evaluated by external consultants, and the evalution work carried out so far will be discussed in the conculsion of this talk.

Co-author: Steve Miller
UCL, United Kingdom

Co-author: Sue Bowler
Royal Astronomical Society, United Kingdom

Co-author: Liz Jeavans
Jenesys Associates Ltd, United Kingdom

Return to:   Session parallels: draft program   |   Visual presentations: draft program