GAM 2017 Blog

By Christie McMonigal

Over the past few years we have been increasing our presence on social media, and this GAM we have made some really big steps in this direction, along with decreasing the focus on the website.

This year we have set up an instagram account, started utilising the Facebook Live video function, and brought on board a social media manager to help guide our activity.

The reason we have turned out focus to social media is because that is where our community is. Across the globe, mobile phone usage is increasing, more than 50% of the time we spend on the internet is on our mobile phones. In addition to this, internet users in developing and emerging countries are much more frequent users of social networks than in the US and Europe. This is in part because smart phones are more accessible than desktop computers in these countries. So by increasing our social media presence we are better able to connect with our members in these developing countries.

These changes have had big impacts too - we can see that interaction on our social media channels has increased dramatically. Particularly, for videos, the Facebook Live videos have had many more views than videos in previous years which were uploaded to Youtube and our website, which means we are reaching a lot more people. By using Live videos too we are able to actively engage with our community during the videos, they are able to post comments and questions in real time during the video, which we can answer and which also promote discussion between our users.

Another innovation we started this year was GAM Daily. In addition to our regular GAM Blog and American Astronomical Society Random Astro-facts, we collaborated with IAU Inclusion Working Group (LINK) and AstroEdu to bring Astronomy for All and AstroEdu Daily Activities. Astronomy for All highlights a new resource or activity every day to help clubs and groups include people with disabilities in their activities, while AstroEdu Daily shared a new astronomy education activity every day, often related to the different activities occurring during GAM.

All of these activities have had a fantastic impact, helping us connect with more people around the world, in particular helping them connect with us. We have had hundreds of photos, videos and event reports shared with us by people all over the world.

As GAM coordinator the thing that I love most about this role is seeing how people around the world celebrate, the similarities and the differences and the varied challenges presented by different locations. I love the photos of people looking through a telescope for the first time, children staring in wonder at the sky and the joy of seasoned astronomers when they get to share their passion.
So once again thanks to you our community for making GAM the amazing experience it is.




ChristieChristie McMonigal is the coordinator of Global Astronomy Month and an Australian science communicator with a strong focus on astronomy. She has worked in education and outreach with a number of organisations including Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre and Sydney Observatory. She currently works with the University of Technology Sydney, coordinating the outreach and recruitment programs for the Faculty of Science.

Christie has a passion for sharing her love of science with the general public. She feels science, in particular physics and astronomy, is a vital part of our everyday lives and she loves to use science to engage and inspire people of all ages.