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Sky Wise: Astronomers and the Public

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ducation and public outreach at NASA and “broader impacts” at the National Science Foundation have become increasingly more important for securing research funding for astronomy research in the United States. In response, astronomers have attempted to teach the public about astronomy in more systematic, creative, and document-able ways. Oftentimes, their efforts are presented with survey results showing the immediate positive impact on their audiences, however, long term impact has not been assessed. This presentation focuses on a multi-year survey project to assess the basic sky knowledge of various populations in the USA and the UK. The goal of the project is to survey as many people as possible across the spectrum of age, education, ethnicity, and environment (urban, rural, etc.) in order to be able to statistically scale up to generalize about the entire population. Astronomers are included in the research population at first to serve as a high limit standard; however, their characteristics were surprising enough and complex enough to merit further study. IoA astronomers are included in the results presented and are invited to complete a survey for 2009.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Seminars series.

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