Friday, 18 April 2008

1st MEARIM IAU Meeting and IYA 09 UK Conference

Could we be having another CAP in the UK? Last year a number of astronomers and science communicators met in Athens for the Communicating Astronomy to the Public Conference and a number of us decided that there should be a CAP 08 or CAP 09 at least. Sat round the dinner table in Athens a number of us drunkenly decide that we should hold it in South Africa.... or should I say the question arose over dinner and Kevin Govender (as usual) shouted Africa!

So now with a CAP 10 taking place in the evaluation year of the International Year of Astronomy in SA we have a rather large gap of events taking place where the participants in IYA 09 can get together and consolidate what we are planning and what we have so far accomplished. At the moment myself, Tracey Parker of Leicester University (Widening Participation and UK Space School), Rob Hill of NISO and Ian Robson and Steve Owens are looking at having a pre-meeting at the ASTRONET Symposium on the Wednesday afternoon, perhaps as a parallel session or a lunchtime meeting to discuss who would be interested in attending the conference and what kind of setup it should have. At the moment myself and Tracey are in favour of having a show and tell setup rather than just a series of 15 minute presentations. Its better to show people and talk about what you are up to rather than some of the types of presentations at CAP 07 where some of the speakers forgot they were meant to be science communicators.... enough said (some of those presentations were rather tedious!).

Universe Awareness is getting there, painfully slowly with development and coordiantion by myself for the UK and a number of internationally based colleagues who are all equally enthsiastic and equally nuts, in a nice way might I add. Hey, this is what makes the UNAWE community so unique, you have to have a sense of humour and an undying passion to foolow your new found friends to foreign lands to see what they are up to and participate in delivering their activities... at some point those piccies of me and Susan Murabana (Kenya - Global Hands on Universe) in front of the Pyramids will appear.

The Galileo Teacher Training Programme will be developed for both primary and secondary schools. I'll expand on this later in another post, I suppose one good thing about the Cosmic Diary project as a whole is the way that astronomers are portrayed to the general public. Right now I am rambling as I am extremely tired after spending 7 hours in the office building our website for Setpoint Greater Manchester and organising filing cabinets for moving office. Oh, and also writing grant bids (which seems to be taking over my life at the moment but hey, someone has to do it!). Alex, my son is asleep now and I have spent some time today chatting to friends on Skype testing out our new webcam. I'm planning on going over to Italy next week to meet with Franco Paccini at Arcetri Observatory and take the aforementioned friends to see the observatory also and check out what Franco and Lara Albanese get up to with their education and outreach programme. They make these really amazing black silouhette puppets out of wood and card to teach the children in the region about astronomy and culture.

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