World’s Top Observatories to Collaborate for Public Education

Educators from many of the world’s top observatories are heading to Cape Town, South Africa, this week, in an effort to strengthen international ties in public science education. Beginning Friday, they will attend a workshop to discuss the creation of an "International Collaborative for Educational Outreach for State-of-the-Art Telescopes."

Currently, no such international collaboration exists. Workshop attendees will discuss the goals, mission, and priorities for such a group.

"This workshop will enable all participants, especially the staff of the South African Large Telescope (SALT), an opportunity to learn from, and collaborate with, colleagues in the field of astronomy education and outreach," said Sandra Preston, workshop organizer and Director of McDonald Observatory’s Public Information Office at the University of Texas. SALT, now under construction, is a southern-hemisphere near-clone of the innovative Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) at McDonald Observatory.

Observatories participating in the workshop include: the Gemini Project, the W. M. Keck Observatory, Japan’s Subaru Telescope, the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array and Arecibo radio telescopes, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the South African Large Telescope, the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Great Britain’s Jodrell Bank Observatory, and Spain’s Gran Telescopio Canarias.

Following the workshop, the presentations and discussions will be published in the form of conference proceedings. Information on how to obtain copies will be made available at that time.

The U.S. National Science Foundation provided travel funds for participants from U.S. observatories. The Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology of the South African government provided funds for the hosting of the workshop in Cape Town.

Case Rijsdijk
South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
case@saao.ac.za