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Grants:TPS/Brinacor/Communicating Astronomy with the Public Conference 2018

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This Wikimedia Participation Support request was funded in the fiscal year 2014-15. A report is available.

Communicating Astronomy with the Public Conference 2018
summaryGive a talk on Wikipedia as a tool for astronomy education and organize a working group to complete two research projects on astronomy-related content on Wikipedia.
event locationFukuoka, Japan
event date(s)24-28 March, 2018
amount requested1680 USD
home countryNetherlands
submitted on13:46, 11 December 2017 (UTC)

Proposed participation


I am requesting a TPS grant to cover the registration, accommodation, and travel costs to attend the 2018 Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP) Conference. I study astronomy communication and education, and have been active with the Wikimedia Movement since 2014, primarily contributing to offline outreach. I recently attended the 2017 Wikimedia Diversity Conference in Stockholm where I participated in workshops on how to successfully execute projects to increase diversity on Wikipedia. I’m interested in the intersection between diversity and astronomy, and through this project I intend to apply what I learned at WikiDivCon.

The CAP Conference is organized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and occurs every few years (most recently in 2016, 2013, and 2011). It is the largest gathering on astronomy communication, bringing together scientists, educators, journalists, amature astronomers, museum and planetarium professionals, and students. CAP 2018 will be held over five days from 24-28 March 2018 in Fukuoka, Japan.

Goal and expected impact


I will be giving a parallel session talk at CAP 2018 in which I discuss the role of Wikipedia in astronomy education and outreach. As Wikipedia is a common reference for students and anyone curious about astronomy, it should matter to the astronomical community how astronomy-related topics are covered.

I consider there to be two main categories of articles relating to astronomy: technical articles that describe astronomical objects and phenomena, and articles that cover astronomy history and heritage, scientist biographies, and observatories, to name a few examples.

There is still an underrepresentation of women and minority astronomers on Wikipedia, as well as a lack of quality coverage on indigenous astronomical practices, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. Some technical topics on the English-language Wikipedia are very well covered while others remain jargon-heavy and challenging for a casual reader to understand. With regard to both categories, coverage varies greatly in quality and scope depending on the language in question, with smaller language Wikipedias containing significantly fewer articles.

I will not only address this in my talk, but, over the course of the five day conference, will organize a group of astronomy communicators interested in Wikipedia to continue discourse beyond the conference.

This working group on Astronomy + Wikipedia will have the following deliverables, to be completed in the months following CAP:

  • Conduct a survey to understand how Wikipedia is currently used for astronomy education. Results and data will be published in open access format. Questions include:
    • Do you consider Wikipedia a reliable source on astronomy? Why or why not?
    • Have you ever used Wikipedia or content from sister projects in your education or outreach?
    • Are there barriers preventing you or your students from using Wikipedia for astronomy? (ex. Lack of access to internet, lack of quality information in target language, etc.)
  • Identify gaps in coverage of astronomy-related articles with particular focus on smaller-language Wikipedias and content relating to non-Western astronomy and scientists
    • This will be valuable both to the current community of editors and to successfully on-board new editors interested in astronomy.

My motivation for attending this international conference, as opposed to a regional conference in Europe where I am based, is that this particular gathering of astronomy communicators will be the largest, representing the most diverse community of astronomy communicators. Astronomy-related content is generally well covered on the European-language Wikipedias. This conference, with its focus on Asian astronomy and communication, will provide an opportunity to collaborate with non-Western educators that would generally not be possible at a European-regional conference. Additionally, given that this is not an annual event, it will be the only opportunity for at least the next two years to communicate about Wikipedia and execute the goals of the working group at an international level.

Budget breakdown


Total grant request: 1680 USD

  • Flight Amsterdam/Fukuoka: 1000 USD
  • Conference Registration: 135 USD (Early Student Registration)
  • Accommodation: 40 USD per night * 6 nights = 240 USD
  • Food, conference activities, and dinner: 305 USD
    • 45 USD conference dinner
    • 80 USD conference activities
    • 180 USD food and transportation in Fukuoka

Other instructions


Advanced disbursement: yes