From 16 to 20 May 2016, many of the world’s top astronomy communicators will meet in Medellin, Colombia, to exchange views and experiences during the five-day “Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2016” conference. Organised by International Astronomical Union (IAU) Commission C2, the meeting will be hosted at the Parque Explora science centre and the adjacent Planetario de Medellin. CAP 2016 is the largest event of its kind and continues a series of international gatherings held roughly every two years since 2002. This will be the first CAP conference in South America.

Professional communicators, research astronomers, press officers, science journalists, and facilitators engaging different audiences with science and technology will spend the week sharing with, and learning from, peers how to best bring astronomy closer to people.

Some 30 plenary talks and more than 100 shorter presentations will cover topics such as these:

Useful tools and techniques for astronomy communication
Community building and engaging the public
Lessons learnt from communication campaigns
Skills for communication managers: planning, managing risks, etc.
Informal education techniques
Engaging with journalists
The conference has a line-up of six invited speakers:
Dr. Amanda Bauer, Astronomer and Outreach Officer for the Australian Astronomical Observatory, will teach participants how to organise a Hack Day, a free-form day of hands-on creation and collaboration.
Dr. Roger F Malina, Professor of Art Technology and Emerging Media and Communications, and Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Dallas, will approach the topic of art-science collaborations.
Dr. Claudia Mignone, European Space Agency science writer, will describe the complex communication campaign for ESA’s Rosetta mission.
Dr. Christina Richey, Senior Scientist at ASRC Federal working in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, will present ways to effectively navigate crisis communications and lead discussions on difficult topics.
Dr. Mark SubbaRao, Director of the Space Visualisation Laboratory at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, will focus on key learning that he has tested in time to work well in visualising scientific results for the general public.
Dr. Silvia Torres-Peimbert, President of the International Astronomical Union, will talk about the need to raise awareness and generate support from the public with regards to the protection of dark skies.

New this year, the CAP conference will include 12 interactive workshops from which participants will leave with skills they can immediately apply in their daily work. Workshop topics include these:
Using graphic design to communicate astronomy
Using art in communicating astronomy
How to write and distribute press releases effectively
How to develop podcasts and YouTube videos

In addition nearly 50 posters, an “unconference” session, and several organized networking opportunities will allow participants to interact, debate topics of their choice, and connect with peers.

A welcome cocktail, conference dinner, fulldome planetarium screenings, city tours, and other surprises will complete the programme. Professionals from more than 40 countries have already registered, including 10 who were granted travel support by the IAU, and registration remains open here

More information

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The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.