Värmland Star Party 2019 (VSP) is a twenty-nine years old celebration of astronomy friends. This event is organized by the local Swedish Amateur Astronomical Society (SAAF) committee to promote amateur astronomy and to spread the interest of astronomy in the country.
From March 8th to 10th VSP offered a complete program with lectures from the meteorologist Anders Wettergren about the Taurus constellation, from Torbjörn Holmqvist about the astronomical field campaigns in Tenerife and about observatory buildings presented by Mattias Johansson, Torsby and Daniel Sundström.
GAS was invited to this event, and we did a hands-on workshop based on HABIT which had 67 attendees of all ages. In this practical-case workshop the audience acted as a research team trying to face some of the main challenges, key problems and questions that a real professional research team needs to face to create a space instrument as HABIT. They debated about important aspects to keep in mind in a space mission as ExoMars2020, went in depth about some of the main Mars environmental features, did brainstorming about the concept of life and habitability, and started to think about some technology to find water on Mars being previously inspired by HABIT Instrument. After the workshop some astronomy fans will continue knowing HABIT doing their own HABIT replica with a 3D Printer. Some of them will use it as an educative resource in their classrooms, planetariums and friend meetings etc. The post-workshop participant’s evaluation quest has given very positive results. Within the anonymous interviews, twenty different items are used to evaluate the impact of the activity. All of them have got the maximum score (4 or 5 points) from the majority of the participants.
This initiative is part of the HABIT Tour, a one year tour to inspire with space technology all kind of audiences in Sweden and UK. This activity belongs in turn to a larger project developed by the GAS Science Communication Project Manager José Antonio Gordillo Martorell, which is called “From the Lab to the Classroom; straight away and return” that is aimed at bridging the gap between research activities and public communication in different non-academic environments. This innovative approach can be easily transferred to other disciplines, institutions and countries that are concerned about science communication and outreach.
These activities are not only relevant for educational purposes, or for informing the society in a direct way about the activities which are being funded. It also brings other positive effects, such as community building, self-esteem reinforcement, and inter-disciplinary cooperation and inspiration. In summary, we had a beautiful evening in the Värmland Star Party 2019 and we encourage everybody to keep an eye on their activities and be ready to contribute to their 30th anniversary!