Astronomy outreach plays a critical role in the promotion of scientific careers due to its unique ability to inspire interest not just in space, but in science as a whole. For thousands of years, the night sky has inspired wonder in humanity, and that inspiration can act as a gateway to the rest of the scientific community. We as astronomers therefore have an incredibly important role as scientific ambassadors, and giving back to the community through outreach programs is critical to us fulfilling that role.
I have been involved with astronomy outreach for almost my entire academic career, joining the leadership of the UBC Astronomy club and becoming President in my second year. Aided by my background in amateur astronomy, I lead a significant expansion in the club's public stargazing events, including dark sky observing events, allowing many people to see the Milky Way for the first time, and more than doubling membership in the process. I then served in a more advisory role for the last two years of my degree, which included educational visits to local elementary schools. Now that I am doing my PhD, observations of the night sky and educational outreach at schools continue to be my primary outreach activities.
I am leading an outreach initiative for bringing introductory astronomy education to schools that do not normally have access to specialized science education and potential mentors. If you're an Austin-area educator, particularly one in a low-income or majority-minority community, you're encouraged to contact me
UT Austin PMA Star Parties
I am routinely involved in the weekly Wednesday night star parties on top of the UT Austin PMA building, in which members of the general public are welcomed to view wonders of the universe through one of the department telescopes. The main telescope in use is a large 16" Classical Cassegrain which can provide excellent views of objects in the night sky, however we also have some smaller telescopes which I usually operate. If you're interested, feel free to attend one of our star parties! They are free and always open to the public. Click here for more information!