Engaging the public with robotic and remote telescopes

N. Smith*, A. Collins, A. Giltinan, D. Loughnan, C. McSweeney and F. McCarthy
Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork Institute of Technology, Cork, Ireland

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Blackrock Castle in Cork, Ireland, houses an interactive science exhibition and astronomical observatory. A key objective of the facility is to raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance of science in modern society. Here we describe our experiences of using robotic and remote telescopes as a means of engaging the public in a twoway conversation that supports this objective. For the most part it is not the technology that poses the biggest challenges, but rather developing an operational framework that takes account of the needs and perceptions of the public. We briefly summarize two case studies that highlight public engagement initiatives in which we are involved. We argue that the time has come to capitals on the maturation of small-telescope technology as applied to changing public perceptions about science.

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Keywords : class files: remote telescopes – public outreach – public science engagement