GAM 2012 Blog

April 24

By Oana Sandu

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What’s your birthday wish?

Many people would say happiness or maybe love, health, or the latest iPad. We’re used to receiving, not giving on our birthdays, that’s how almost all the people I know including myself are, except one.

I know one person who on his birthday, every year, goes to an orphanage and talks to children about the Universe. So it happens that his birthday is in April, when we celebrate Global Astronomy Month. And so it happens that this is the whole spirit of GAM — sharing the wonders of the sky with people from all walks of life. Passionate astronomy lovers go out during this month to enthusiastically share their passion, knowledge or curiosity.

Keep this thought in mind.

Some time ago, I was participating in a meeting where outreach people and professional astronomers were exchanging opinions about communicating science. One scientist raised a concern/complaint. While (s)he was working a group of media representatives was watching behind a glass and (s)he felt “like a monkey” and disturbed. I could not help but wonder if this scientist knew that the very fact that (s)he was there, using top instruments was because public money had been allocated for her/him to do her/his research and share the results with society. But what bothered me most was the lack of enthusiasm to talk about one’s work, as much as this is allowed in science, to share the challenges faced in trying to answer a question with possible relevance to the entire humanity, to explain why this is important for us to know.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many scientists out there who communicate astronomy better than any of us, outreach people, will ever do. But unfortunately there are still those who believe communication and outreach are trivial and media are evil.

So, this April 2012, on GAM’s third year anniversary, let’s make a wish: that GAM 2013 will see even more scientists joining amateur astronomers and educators in sharing no more than their passion, and inspiring passion to generations to come so that astronomy continues to be an active field of research.


Oana Sandu works as community coordinator for ESO’s education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD). She is responsible for the promotion and distribution of outreach products or events and the social media presence of both ESO and ESA/Hubble. With a degree in Communication and Public Relations and a Master Degree in Marketing, she worked for two years in a leading Eastern European PR agency from. As a volunteer, she was involved in projects such as Global Astronomy Month, the Space Generation Congress and World Space Week. She keeps a blog on astronomy communication at, tweets on and posts on