Announcing Big Astronomy - People, Places, Discoveries!
Did you know that it takes a huge team of people, working many different jobs, in order to make Big Astronomy possible? One of our newest outreach materials is this cloth banner that highlights a few of these amazing folks!

The Night Sky Network is proud to announce the release of our latest Outreach ToolKit: Big Astronomy!

The Big Astronomy Outreach Toolkit was created in tandem with the production and release of the NSF-funded Big Astronomy planetarium show. The online premiere of the live 360 virtual show will take viewers to Chile, where 70% of the world's largest telescopes sit atop desert incredible mountains. Find out what it takes to run these observatories and how they bring us the wonders of the universe by watching the premiere on the Big Astronomy YouTube channel on September 26, 2020! See the full schedule here.

You can find the Big Astronomy Toolkit manual and select downloadable activities on this dedicated resource page. Activities in this toolkit include an umbrella that doubles as a galaxy model, light pollution activities that include light shielding demonstrations and a dark sky measurement wheel, star stories from around the world, a light spectrum investigation, the utility of light filters, and a cloth banner showcasing some of the people and professions that make possible the science from these massive telescopes.

photo of telescope domes under moonlight
Big Astronomy suffers from many of the same problems that amateur astronomers share. For example, notice how the domes in this nighttime shot are mostly shut! Why is that? This gorgeous image was taken by Moonlight! Even on the Atacama plateau, one can't escape light  from a full Moon!

The Big Astronomy project was conceived as a way to highlight the massive teams of organizations and people needed to make successful discoveries on the scale demanded by the massive telescopic installations on top of the arid mountains of Chile, which is the focus of this show and toolkit. A lone astronomer peering through the eyepiece of a large telescope may be the image many have of astronomical discovery, but the modern day reality is vastly different!

Modern observatories need to be constructed on a giant scale, in distant and inhospitable environments that minimize light pollution, changing weather, and the obscuring effects of turbulent air. The high desert mountains of Chile possess some of the best conditions in the world to help make Big Astronomy happen - so much so that 70% of the world's largest installations are found there. However, the challenges of installing such massive engineering works in the Atacama mean that international cooperation with teams of thousands of scientists, engineers, and skilled workers are  needed to ensure their success. From designing and creating massive mirrors and instruments, and buildings to house them, to transporting equipment safely across thousands of miles, to making sure everyone is fed and comfortable, to ensuring the data gathered by these massive telescopes can be securely processed and accessed by scientists around the world, people of all backgrounds work hard to make these unparalleled astronomical discoveries possible. 

Find out more on the official Big Astronomy website at bigastronomy.org, and check out the toolkit activities too! Details on the availability of the Big Astronomy toolkit can be found in the latest member newsletter, so check your email if you have not received notice, or the archived newsletter found here (NSN login required)..Materials will begin shipping to qualified member clubs in mid-September! We look forward to bringing the inspiring story of the workers and science behind Big Astronomy to everyone!

 
Last Updated: September 16, 2020

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Logo for Night Sky Network featuring child and astronomer observing the skyNight Sky Network (NSN) member clubs are dedicated to bringing the wonders of space and NASA science to folks across the USA.NSN program participation provides clubs with tools and resources to assist in their public outreach. 


 
 
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The NASA Night Sky Network is managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The ASP is a 501c3 non-profit organization advancing science literacy through astronomy.