Outreach Award Introduction

Outreach Award Coordinator:

Mike Ramirez
11942 Harmony Dr.
Jacksonville, Florida 32246
Telephone: 904-860-1454
E-mail: Astro-outreach@att.net


Introduction:

The Astronomical League has been highly successful motivating League club/society members to not only get out and observe, but to also record and submit their observations for appropriate recognition. The stated goal for the Observing Programs is that they offer encouragement and certificates of accomplishment for demonstrating observing skills with a variety of instruments and objects. The success of the Astronomical League's various Observing Programs and awards is but just one of the League's many benefits to its member club/societies.

The new League Outreach Award will afford individual Astronomy Outreach recognition. Many club/society members already do outreach, but no one organization recognizes the outreach efforts of the many, many individuals.

The AstronomyOutreach listserv started by Scott Roberts of Meade Instruments has been an excellent vehicle to share ideas, promote outreach, and encourage those involved in outreach. Currently AstronomyOutreach recognizes groups and occasionally individuals for their contributions to outreach on an annual basis; the AstronomyOutreach Outreach Awards, also known as the AstroOscars, are given on an annual basis at the Winter Star Party. Past recipients include the Astronomy Picture of the Day team, Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazine for their promotions of outreach events, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Southern Cross Astronomical Society and the Eastbay Astronomical Society, and the League's own Jen and Vic Winter for their various work and efforts.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific has become a major focus for outreach. Its many outstanding programs and recognition offer vehicles for the amateur, either through their local club/society or individually, to become involved in outreach. Project ASTROT, now approaching it 12th year, improves the teaching of astronomy and physical science in grades 4 through 9, and in youth groups, by linking professional and amateur astronomers with local educators. Each astronomer is matched with an educator in a one-on-one partnership and commits to visiting the educator's students at least four times during the school year. Over 500 active educator-astronomer partnerships currently bring the excitement of scientific discovery through astronomy to roughly 20,000 students annually.

Newly administered by the ASP is the Night Sky Network, which is a nationwide coalition of astronomy clubs and societies bringing the science, technology and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public. The Night Sky Network is sponsored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

So with all of these already-excellent programs in place, why an Outreach Award, and the Astronomical League as the appropriate vehicle?

  1. Outreach is simply paramount to the survival of our hobby! You know and have seen the Sky & Telescope statistics. And look around you: our meetings are "graying."
  2. The highly-successful League Observing Programs are popular and inviting. By making Astronomy Outreach on the same level as other League Observing Programs, it promotes the importance of outreach among our many members. It would also encourage clubs/societies to become more involved.
  3. The Astronomical League is the organization that has historically tied together amateur clubs and societies. The League is, therefore, the best vehicle by far to recognize and reward individual outreach efforts. The League already recognizes efforts by clubs/societies for Astronomy Day. Yet we need to practice outreach on more than one day per year - and many of us do just that. It is often the individual who makes this happen.
  4. You cannot have too much outreach nor recognize outreach efforts often enough!

Rules and Regulations:

To qualify for the Astronomical League's Outreach, Stellar Outreach and Master Outreach Awards, you need only be a member of the Astronomical League, either through an affiliated club or as a Member-at-Large. If you are not a member now, click here to view information on becoming a member.

The initial concept is to award outreach just as the Astronomical League currently recognizes Observing Program (each Program offers a certificate based upon achieving certain observing goals): based on a number of outreach events and hours. There are three levels of recognition:

Outreach Award
  • A minimum of five-2 hour (minimum each outreach) outreach events
  • Document each event:
    • Date, time (started and ended), location
    • What you did for the outreach
    • Estimate of the number of people attending
Stellar Outreach Award
  • In addition to the (basic) Outreach Award, the Stellar Outreach recipients will need an additional fifty hours (minimum) in outreach events
  • Again, document each event:
    • Date, time (started and ended), location
    • What you did for the outreach
    • Estimate of the number of people attending
  • The recipient will "report" on one of his/her outreach events; these reports can be used in The Reflector and elsewhere to overview what amateurs are doing in Outreach and share ideas.
Master Outreach Award
  • In addition to the Outreach and Stellar Outreach Awards, the Master Outreach recipients will need an additional one hundred hours (minimum) in outreach events
  • As with the first two levels, document each event:
    • Date, time (started and ended), location
    • What you did for the outreach
    • Estimate of the number of people attending
  • The Master Outreach Award nominee will report on what seems to work best for their outreach efforts; this can be specific activities, locations, etc. Like with the Stellar Outreach Award, these reports can be used in The Reflector.

This structure of tiered recognition encourages the initial recipient to continue with his/her outreach efforts. As with all League Observing Programs, the Astronomical League's Outreach Awards will be numbered. And as with other League Observing Programs, all Outreach proposed awards would need to be certified by the local club/society president. Each successful individual would receive a certificate and pin after review by the League Outreach Program Chair.

Outreach documentation for the Astronomical League's Outreach Awards begins with events starting on 1 January 2006.

A possible extension of the Outreach Observing Program and recognition will be an annual recognition of an individual or individuals for outstanding outreach at each year's National ALCon.

The Astronomical League's Outreach Awards chair will be Dr. Mike Reynolds. Mike's background includes 15 years in astronomy-science museums, ten years as a successful high school physics teacher, and five years as a college astronomy professor. He has just been appointed the Dean of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Florida Community College (a 60,000 student state institution). He has written several astronomy books and articles, served two terms as the League's National Vice President, chaired two national Astronomical League conventions (including the highly-successful AstroCon 2004 in Berkeley, California), is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, a full member of the American Astronomical Society, and is already heavily involved in outreach through AstronomyOutreach.

To receive your Outreach, Stellar or Master Certificate and Award Pin, review the Outreach Log Instructions for recording your events, fill out the Outreach Log Spreadheet form and send the completed Outreach Log Spreadsheet, to:

Outreach Award Coordinator:

Mike Ramirez
11942 Harmony Dr.
Jacksonville, Florida 32246
Telephone: 904-860-1454
E-mail: Astro-outreach@att.net

Upon verification of your observations, your certificate and award pin will be sent to you or your society's Awards Co-ordinator, whomever you choose.

Related Links:

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PDF File Format

Outreach Program FAQs
Public Outreach Program Awards