Astronomers don’t always have their heads in the clouds.
The Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) has awarded an honorary fellowship to an educator who spends her life communicating the wonder of the stars to the general public.
Dr Tanya Hill, Senior Curator of Astronomy at Museums Victoria, has been given the award in honour of her public advocacy and her work for the Society.
Hill said she was delighted that the award recognised the value of public advocacy and science education.
“What we do is about connecting people with the wonder and awe of the universe. Science is everywhere – it’s beyond the walls of the university or research laboratory. It’s an exciting part of our world.”
Hill said as an astronomer she felt a particular responsibility to be a science communicator.
“People are fascinated by astronomy. When we think about the grandness of the universe it pulls us out of our everyday. It’s a wonderful way to spark an interest in science. Because astronomy has that broad appeal we have the opportunity to reach people.
“Science is funded by public money so it’s important the public understands what we do and how we do it. We always make an effort to explain what we do, to say ‘This is how science works’ and why it’s important.”
Hill said that Australian astronomy was fortunate to have an active and vibrant professional Society.
She is proud that her role as the Prizes and Awards Coordinator over the last decade, has helped bring recognition to the excellent work of Australia’s astronomers.
Hill said she was honoured that her name would join luminaries that she has long admired including Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt, Melbourne University Head of Astrophysics Prof Rachel Webster and Director, Australian Astronomical Observatory Prof Warrick Couch.
Museums Victoria CEO Lynley Marshall said the award was a tremendous tribute to Dr Tanya Hill and to the importance of the science education and research conducted through Museums Victoria.
“We are very proud of the quality of our scientists, our important research and the role we take in science education. There’s an increasing appreciation of the need for excellent science communication to public understanding of the environment, health and the world around us.
“In recognising Tanya’s extraordinary contribution the ASA has honoured all those who bringing their creativity to spreading knowledge.”
She has created seventeen planetarium shows, now screened in over sixty planetariums across twenty countries world-wide.
Hill also runs the popular Discover the Night Sky events at Melbourne Planetarium.
The next Discover the Night Sky event will be held on 3 August 2017 at 7.30pm.
The Honorary Fellowship will be presented to Tanya Hill at the Annual General Meeting of the ASA on Wednesday, July 12 2017.
It is part of the national conference of astronomers, taking place at the Australian National University, Canberra from 9-14 July 2017.