AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 118 Reaching Out: EPO
Poster, Thursday, January 8, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Grand Hall

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[118.03] Night Sky Network: A partnership with NASA, the ASP and Astronomical League

S. Chippindale, M. Berendsen (ASP)

In 2002, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) surveyed amateur astronomers to determine their views and experiences with public outreach. The ultimate goal was to discover methods to support amateur astronomers in their outreach efforts. The survey discovered that they are looking for ready-made, themed materials, training in astronomy content and presentation skills, mentoring, and networking to enhance their astronomy events and support their ability to do educational outreach.

Acting on these results and with funding from NASA, the ASP is forming a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs whose members bring the science, technology and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public. The program consists of three primary components: outreach materials, training, and community building. Member-based astronomy clubs will receive kits of materials on various astronomy topics to supplement and enhance their events as well as a "professional development" component that includes training on how to use the materials and tips to strengthen their individual presentation skills. The Night Sky Network web site includes public pages and a user area where success stories and challenges can be exchanged, new information downloaded, and a support area for amateur astronomers doing outreach.

We are currently testing our first kit, "PlanetQuest: The Search for Another Earth", in over two dozen clubs across the country. The second kit, "Big Bang to Black Holes" is under development for NASA's Structure and Evolution of the Universe Forum through the SAO and will be beta tested over the spring and summer of 2004.

Sponsored and supported by NASA-JPL, NASA-SAO Education Forum, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the Astronomical League.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.