How do you communicate space science in Toronto?

(Originally published in Filling Space)

One important way to participate in humanity’s engagement with space is via space science communication. Directly advancing the frontiers of human knowledge as a scientist is important, but new knowledge has a greater impact on society if it is communicated outside specialist circles. Space science communication moreover needs to be tailored to different audiences and contexts, which is why local space science organizations can effectively “democratize” humanity’s engagement with space. To learn more about one such organization, we spoke to Julie Midroni. She is the president of the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society at the University of Toronto. She explained what the society does and how she came to lead it.

What is the Astronomy and Space Exploration Society?

The Astronomy and Space Exploration Society (ASX) is an undergraduate-run organization centered at the University of Toronto. We run a variety of lectures, observation nights, and other events to educate, excite, and inspire people to discover more about our universe. As an organization, we are conscious about the information barrier that prevents science from being accessible to the general public. While informative for individuals of all educational backgrounds, we strive to ensure that anyone can attend, understand, and appreciate our events and lectures. As astronomy and space exploration continue to become more relevant globally and politically, it has become more important for the general public to understand and become involved in the science of space. You can look here to find out more about our events and our organizational mandate, as well as to access recordings of our events.

How did you become involved in the society?

I became involved with ASX during my first year of undergrad studies as a symposium director. Since ASX is a student-run organization, I was elected to the role based on a series of statements I provided. Our symposium is our largest event. It is an annual series of talks, wherein we have speakers from all over the globe travel to Toronto and deliver lectures to a large audience. I was initially in charge of organizing it, and I held that role for two years. After our previous president graduated, I was elected president. I just recently began my second term in this role. This year, the Symposium was held virtually due to COVID-19. You can find lecture recordings and abstracts here.

How can people in the Toronto area get involved?

Students at the University of Toronto can get involved with ASX by joining our executive team! We have elections twice a year, in April and September. While our executive team is restricted to students from the university, anyone who is physically able to travel to campus is welcome to attend our free lectures, viewing nights, and other events. In fact, due to COVID-19, we have transitioned to virtual events and intend to continue with a hybrid platform even after in-person events resume. As such, anyone globally is welcome to tune into any of our talks whenever they would like.

If you want to learn more about our events, please email asxsociety@utoronto.ca so we can add you to our mailing list. Our monthly newsletter details all our upcoming events.

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