Adler Planetarium

Adler Planetarium

I do a lot of outreach with the Adler Planetarium, where I have a visiting researcher affiliation.

The Adler Planetarium is the oldest planetarium in the US and welcomes hundreds of thousands of guests per year. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to its museum exhibits and dome shows, the Adler hosted Astronomy Conversations where professional astronomers staffed the Space Visualization Lab (SVL) to explain their research and concepts in astronomy to a general audience as a sort of living exhibit. The SVL is unique in offering a space with a networked set of 3D enabled monitors and projectors that are all controlled wirelessly– allowing the presenter to draw from a bank of tailored visualizations that can be seamlessly cast to any number of specific displays. I staffed the SVL monthly as part of a network of volunteers who participated on a rotating schedule.

But during the pandemic the Adler was closed to the public, and following budget cuts and staff layoffs Astronomy Conversations was discontinued and the SVL space was scaled back. After the Adler re-opened, I was given a visiting researcher appointment to consult on ways to improve the SVL space without having to staff it with astronomers. Some ideas we’ve been working on include a stand-alone Firefly display in an iPad and a Raspberry Pi powered display showing what different telescopes are currently pointed at (using e.g. Twitter).

Last but not least, I also mentored two high school students in a science communication program focused on the Zooniverse project. Every year the Zooniverse team publishes an annual report featuring a subset of the projects titled Into the Zooniverse. The high school interns are responsible for writing some of the content and recording interviews with project leads to produce short form social media content. I directly supervised two students and helped teach best practices in written and oral science communication including for example: avoiding jargon, knowing your audience, and combatting sensationalist misinformation.

© Alex Gurvich, 2022. All rights reserved.

Powered by Hydejack v9.1.6