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ISSUE 5 - January 2009

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ASTRONET: Public Outreach (pages 26-31)
Rosa M. Ros, Robert Fosbury, Lars Lindberg Christensen, Jose Carlos del Toro Iniesta, Leonarda Fucili, Robert Hill, Dirk Lorenzen, Claus Madsen, Andy Newsam, Alan Pickwick and Veselka Radeva

The infrastructures that are built and used for astronomical research are financed by — and therefore must be justified to — our society. Astronomy has an innate appeal for people of all ages, partly because it concerns the fascinating, great questions “of life, the Universe and everything” and partly because much of the data obtained with telescopes can be presented as objects of stunning beauty. These are key facts when considering communicating astronomy with the public.

This native advantage that astronomy has over many other sciences does not, however, relieve us of the obligation to explain what we are doing to the public at large. There are many reasons for doing this. They range from attracting bright young people into the subject to fuel future research endeavours to convincing decision-takers to allocate large sums of money to finance increasingly expensive and ambitious projects.

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