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When you're in love you want to tell the world. I've been in love with science, so it seems to most natural thing in the world to tell people about it.

Carl Sagan

Amateur Astronomers

"When you're in love you want to tell the world. I've been in love with science, so it seems to most natural thing in the world to tell people about it."

- Carl Sagan

...And what more can you ask from an audience than unfaltering enthusiasm and endless curiosity? Child are naturally curious about the Universe around them and the mysteries beyond Earth's horizons spark the imagination like nothing else. Take a child out late at night to see the magic of a real dark-night sky, and it's an adventure that will stay with them forever!

Statistics say that for every professional astronomer there are 20 amateurs, and in the last few years this majority is really showing how influential they can be in the scientific community! In recent years, amateur astronomers have stunned the world by beating the professionals to a number of “first” discoveries: in 2012, amateur astronomers were the first to detect two strange objects impacting with Jupiter's atmosphere. More recently, they've spotted dozens of new exo-planets, including many that could possibly be habitable! During the International Year of Astronomer in 2009, amateur astronomers played a major role in the organisation of astronomy outreach activities that really brought the global event to life.

Now, Universe Awareness (UNAWE) is inviting amateur astronomers to make a difference by inspiring young children with the wonders of the Cosmos and helping to build a solid future for astronomy and cosmic discovery. Between 4 and 10 years is the perfect time for children to get in touch with science for the first time, and astronomy is by far the most inspiring and easy-to-access of all the scientific topics. Research shows that encouraging children to have fun and play while learning, and by letting them observe independently and search for their own answers rather than explaining everything to them, encourages scientific thinking.

You don't have to be a teacher or an expert on pedagogy, just be enthusiastic and let the Universe do the hard work for you!

How can you help?

  • There are loads of activity guides and ideas on our website that can be adapted to fit your own cultural and geographical needs, and for the specific age range you are dealing with.
  • Get in touch with science teachers in local schools or volunteer at a local community or science centre, and offer to give a talk, run an observing session or prepare a UNAWE activity, we have plenty to choose from for young kids of all ages and interests. Take a look.
  • Create an astronomy or astro-photography club at your local primary school and plan some cool observing events: take the children out at night to observe the lunar phases, planets and “shooting stars”, or plan a day-time observing event and show them sunspots.
  • Join a discussion on the 'Cloud Nights' forum and learn from the experience of other amateur astronomer who have dipped their toes into children's outreach — or share your own knowledge and inspire others.
  • Become part of an tradition that has been going-strong since the 19th century and take a foray into “sidewalk astronomy”. Just set up a telescope on a busy street and get the public excited about our skies.
  • Reach kids from all around the world at once, and you won't even have to leave the house! Skype in the Classroom is always looking for new speakers to present talks.

How to organise

If you need help organising your event or finding participants you can get in touch with science teachers at your local primary school or contact nearby community centres, museums or science centres. Or, if your country is one of 64 with a UNAWE National Programmes (find a full list here), you can contact your local UNAWE coordinators to plan activities or just to seek advice and share experiences.

If you can, try to plan your event around an open day or a national festivity date, this way you can take advantage of similar activities taking place and attract a larger audience. Try to get friends, colleagues or professors involved to help lighten the workload for yourself (we suggest you aim to have one person for every 15-20 children).  

Make sure to take pictures at your activities and tell us how they went if you want us to share them with the community on our international website and social media channels!

Above all....

  • Be enthusiastic
  • Keep things simple
  • Use analogies
  • Encourage Creativity

If you're interested in organising an event and have any questions, need advice or even resources, contact us at