fbpx Sharing Space: engaging the public in a discussion about cutting-edge astronomy and space science research | Ecsite

Sharing Space: engaging the public in a discussion about cutting-edge astronomy and space science research

17 November 2021
  • Other

Programme for Week 1

Keynote speakers in Week 1 will represent both astronomy and the space and technology sector. Dr Kelly Blumenthal (Leiden University and the International Astronomical Union) will discuss strategic public engagement, and Dr Gaitee Hussein will discuss the European Space Agency’s upcoming missions and approaches to communicating cutting-edge space and technology research.

In Week 1, the practical, interactive part of the session will bring small mixed groups of science engagement professionals and researchers through a series of structured exercises to explore the question “how might we engage the public in a discussion about cutting-edge astronomy and space science research?” from multiple points of view, and to agree upon a specific element of this challenge to address in future sessions.

By the end of this session, participants will have gained an understanding of some of the opportunities and challenges in engaging the public with astronomy and space science research, will have shared experiences and perspectives with participants from different backgrounds, and in small groups, will have settled on a branch of astronomical research to form the basis for public engagement initiatives to be imagined in forthcoming sessions.

Speaker Bios:

Kelly Blumenthal is currently the Project Manager for the IAU Public Engagement Training Programme. She holds a PhD in astrophysics from the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, and a master's in education from Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Kelly is based out of Boston, Massachusetts, where she lives with her partner and their corgi.

Gaitee Hussain got her BSc in Astronomy & Physics from University of California at lrvine, followed by a PhD from St. Andrews in 2000. She was then awarded Harvard Smithsonian CfA Research fellowship in the USA, when she expanded her research interests into high energy astrophysics. She got the chance to further that working as an ESA Research Fellow at ESTEC in the Netherlands. She joined the European Southern Observatory in Garching Germany as a staff member in 2007, where she stayed for 13 years. While at ESO she had several different roles including scheduling telescopes, running peer reviews, editing the main ESO journal - the Messenger and the annual report. Since 2020, she is the Head of the European Space Agency Science Division, based at ESTEC in the Netherlands - the science division hosts the project scientists working on all of ESA’s Science Missions and 25 research fellows + several trainees/interns. She also supports the Faculty, and science communication and education initiatives.


  • Space
  • researchers
  • science communicators


Sharing Space: creative collaboration for public engagement with cutting-edge astronomy

Many astronomers and science communicators are familiar with communicating the wonder of the solar system, or missions to Mars. However, cutting-edge astronomical research such as the search for dark energy, or gravitational waves, while showing up in press releases, is much less common in the public engagement of science and technology.