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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Apply To Be An ASX Executive

Do you have a passion for all things space? Are you looking to expand your leadership and extracurricular experiences? The Astronomy and Space Exploration Society at U of T is currently recruiting new executive team members for the upcoming year!Available positions and descriptions can be found at:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1l3Obvs47FBbcIQYZmvsx5pu-tuUOSKFhDMJVltI6IbU/edit

To apply, please fill out this form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdApXKUtkMI_-YNMMcDHAEgMADBqHHFPqrc_3SrQhr1dP3DSg/viewform

You may apply for a maximum of three positions. For each position, you must write a brief statement (250 word maximum) explaining why you want the role and why you are qualified. The deadline for applications is April 6th at 11:59PM.All applications for each position will be compiled into a google form, and elections for the new executive team will take place during the following window: April 7th, 7PM – April 8th, 11:59PM.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR CERTAIN ROLES

Those running for the position of secretary have at least one nomination from a current ASX member (ie: an individual on our mailing list). Those running for position of vice-president and president must have at least two nominations from current ASX members, and must have already been on the ASX executive team for at least 6 months.Nominations can be emailed to space.society@utoronto.ca.Those running for graphic designer, or photographer must have relevant graphic design/photography/video editing experience. This will be confirmed by the ASX executive team once the elections have concluded. Those without the relevant experience will be unable to take on the role, even if they have won

Those running for the position of secretary have at least one nomination from a current ASX member (ie: an individual on our mailing list).Those running for position of vice-president and president must have at least two nominations from current ASX members, and must have already been on the ASX executive team for at least 6 months.Nominations can be emailed to space.society@utoronto.ca.Those running for graphic designer, or photographer must have relevant graphic design/photography/video editing experience. This will be confirmed by the ASX executive team once the elections have concluded. Those without the relevant experience will be unable to take on the role, even if they have won the election.

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Archaeoastronomy: The Astronomy of Civilizations Past

Archaeoastronomy can be defined as “the study of how people in the past have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they have used these phenomena, and what role the sky played in their cultures”. University of Leicester archaeoastronomer Clive Ruggles has described it as “a field with academic work of high quality at one end, but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other”. This illustrated, non-technical presentation will highlight examples from both the Old World and the New World. Presenter John Percy is a Professor Emeritus of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and of Science Education at the University of Toronto, and an Associate of the Dunlap Institute. He has a longstanding interest in this and other interdisciplinary aspects of astronomy.The Zoom link will be shared closer to the event date!

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17th ASX Symposium – Mysteries of the Universe

Would you like to learn about astronomy?

Learn about the Mysteries of the Universe from leading astronomers in our annual symposium from February 15–17!

Astronomers from the University of Toronto to the University of Cambridge are set to improve your understanding of the universe at the ASX Society’s 17th annual symposium themed “𝗠𝘆𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗨𝗻𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲”.

Learn from research scientists including Dr. Anastasia Fialkov, senior research fellow with the Kavli Institute at the University of Cambridge; Dr. Marc Kamionkowski, professor of theoretical physics & astronomy at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. Chris Impey, professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. Watch 𝗴𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲𝘀, a 𝗱𝗮𝗿𝗸 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻, an 𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗵𝗼𝘁𝗼𝗴𝗿𝗮𝗽𝗵𝘆 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗽, and more. Discover more about black holes, dark matter, and dark energy, and ask your questions to experts in astronomy.Tickets are $5 per person, or free for post-secondary students (requires valid student number). You can join our annual raffle, with four tickets for $3.

Book your tickets at asxsociety.com

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