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ISSUE 18 - September 2015

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How Astronomers View Education and Public Outreach: An Exploratory Study (page 16)
Lisa Dang, Pedro Russo

Key Words
Attitudes towards outreach, education and public outreach, funding


Over the past few years there have been a number of studies exploring the development of an interest in science and scientists’ views on public outreach. Yet, to date, there has been no global study regarding astronomers’ views on these matters. Through the completion of our survey of 155 professional astronomers online and in person during the 28th International Astronomical Union General Assembly in 2012, we explore how these individuals developed an interest in astronomy, the part outreach played in this and their views on the time constraints and budget restrictions associated with public outreach activities. We find that astronomers develop an interest in astronomy between the ages of four and six, but that the decision to undertake a career in astronomy often comes during late adolescence. We also discuss the claim that education and public outreach is regarded as an optional task rather than a scientist’s duty. Our study reveals that many astronomers are of the opinion that a larger percentage of their research time should be invested in outreach activities, calling for a change in grant policies.

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