Multimedia Astronomy Communication Public

A fundamental aspect of our jobs as scientists is communicating our work to others. In this, the field of astronomy holds the double-edged sword of ubiquitous fascination: the topic has been of interest to nearly the entire global population at some point in their lives, yet the learning curve is steep within any subfield and rife with difficult-to-synthesize details. Compounding this issue is the ever-expanding array of methods to reach people in today's Communications Era. Each communication medium has its own strengths and weaknesses, is appropriate in different situations, and requires its own specific skillset in order to maximize its functionality. Despite this, little attention is given to training astronomers in effective communication techniques, often relying on newcomers to simply pick up the ability by mimicking others and assuming that a firm grasp on the subject matter will make up for deficiencies in communication theory. This can restrict astronomers to a narrow set of communication methods, harming both the communicators and the audience who may struggle to access the information through those media.Whether writing a research paper to academic peers or giving an astronomy talk to a pubic audience, successfully communicating a scientific message requires more than just an expert grasp on the topic. A communicator must understand the makeup and prior knowledge of the desired audience, be able to break down the salient points of the topic into pieces that audience can digest, select and maximize upon a medium to deliver the message, and frame the message in a way that hooks the audience and compels further interest. In this work we synthesize the requirements of effective astronomy communication into a few key questions that every communicator needs to answer. We then discuss some of the most common media currently used to communicate astronomy, give both effective and poor examples of utilizing these media to communicate astronomy, and provide key strategies to consider when communicating via each medium. Be it to peers through journals and conferences, a funding source review board, students in a classroom, or the general public, the value of our community's work is enhanced by our abilities to disseminate that information to others.



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