Press Release

New Outreach ToolKits and Training For Amateur Astronomers Available from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and NASA

By SpaceRef Editor
December 16, 2003
Filed under , ,

Amateur astronomy clubs interested in enhancing or expanding their
public outreach and education activities are invited to apply for
membership in the “Night Sky Network,” a new program specifically
designed for amateur astronomers.

Selected clubs will receive free Outreach ToolKits from NASA on a
variety of astronomy and space-related topics. Jointly developed by
NASA, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), and the
Astronomical League, the program also includes training, special
opportunities for working with NASA scientists and educators, access
to a dedicated website for communicating with other Night Sky Network
participants, and public recognition by NASA for their outreach

The Outreach ToolKits, designed and tested by amateur astronomers,
make it easy for any interested amateur, of any experience level, to
enrich and expand their role in public star parties, club meeting
presentations, school visits, and youth or community group events.

The ASP encourages astronomy clubs from all over the United States,
large or small, urban or rural, to apply for this exciting new
program. Participating clubs will have the opportunity to use
unique, engaging materials and demonstrations at all of their events,
participate in special content and presentation training, involve
more of their members in outreach, and even win national recognition
for their public outreach activities.

“We’re very excited to be working on this wonderful outreach program
with NASA,” said Michael Bennett, ASP Executive Director. “It aligns
so perfectly with the ASP mission–to increase the understanding and
appreciation of astronomy–and our experience in working with
amateurs who like to do outreach activities. Amateur astronomers
represent a huge source of public outreach expertise and energy, and
the Night Sky Network is a great way to catalyze and amplify that
energy even more.”

“NASA is very excited to be working closely with the amateur
astronomy community,” said Michael Greene, head of public engagement
for JPL’s Navigator Program, and PlanetQuest initiatives. “Amateurs
want more people to look at the sky and understand astronomy, and so
do we. Connecting what we do with our missions to the sense of wonder
that comes when you look up at the stars and the planets is one of
our long-term objectives. We have a strong commitment to inspiring
the next generation of explorers. Lending support to the energy that
the amateur astronomy community brings to students and the public
will allow NASA to reach many more people.”

For more information and an on-line club application form, amateur
astronomers can go to and click on “How
To Apply”. Applications must be received by February 29, 2004 in
order to be considered for the first round of memberships. Membership
is limited and clubs are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

The Night Sky Network is sponsored and supported by JPL’s PlanetQuest
public engagement program. PlanetQuest is a part of JPL’s Navigator
Program, which encompasses several of NASA’s extra-solar
planet-finding missions, including the Keck Interferometer, the Space
Interferometry Mission (SIM), the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF),
the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), and the
Michelson Science Center.

The non-profit Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the
nation’s leading organizations devoted to astronomy and space science
education, is developing and managing the Night Sky Network in
cooperation with JPL. Perhaps best known for creating Project ASTRO
and its best-selling resource book, Universe At Your Fingertips, the
ASP’s education and outreach programs include its members magazine,
Mercury, the web-based Universe in the Classroom teachers newsletter,
a website with many astronomy resources and links, and the creation
and distribution of a wide range of astronomy education materials.
Learn more about the ASP at

The Astronomical League ( is a federation
of amateur astronomical societies throughout the United States with
almost 300 member societies and is one of the largest astronomical
organizations in the world.

For accompanying images, go to Photo courtesy of Amy Bradley.

SpaceRef staff editor.