AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 44 Astronomy Education with Radio Waves and Music
Oral, Monday, 10:00-11:30am, January 9, 2006, Balcony B

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[44.06] AstroJazz: Integrating Live Jazz and Astronomy Education

C. A. Morrow (Space Science Institute)

AstroJazz is an innovative public education program in astronomy that blends stunning imagery with live jazz music and a touch of humor to awaken the cosmic curiosity of both adults and children. The program debuted in February 2005 at the Fiske Planetarium on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder with an astronomer-chanteuse (the author), a pianist, bassist, drummer, and technical assistant who created dome effects to compliment the PowerPoint slides associated with each song. This AstroJazz quartet played ten songs, five original tunes (Look Up!, Are We Alone? Andromeda Affaire, StarMan Blues, Star Kissed)), and five standard tunes with lyrical twists toward astronomy & astrobiology (e.g. Stormy Weather - Solar Style and Stardust a la SETI.) The hour-long program also includes educational interludes where the astronomy chanteuse interacts with the audience, providing insights and perspective into the wonders of our universe. The performance program that is handed to all audience members contains additional “gee-whiz” facts and provides leads to websites like Astronomy Picture of the Day and spaceweather.com that provide ongoing points of contact for public interest in astronomy. AstroJazz was very well received in its debut performance and now has several new opportunities to perform. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the AstroJazz program is engaging and educational for a very broad audience, including families with young children, world-class astronomers, and spouses of musicians who had never before been exposed to astronomy. This paper will describe the origins and intended evolution of AstroJazz, and offer a mini-sample of the music and slides used in the program. It will also discuss strategies for how the impact on audiences might be assessed.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.