Outreach at the Kitt Peak Visitor Center: Techniques for Engaging the Public at a Major Observatory
Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) provides state-of-the-art observational facilities and instruments to the astronomical community on the basis of scientific peer review. Since NOAO is supported by the federal government, the NSF encourages the observatory to support a vigorous public outreach program to inform visitors about the purpose of the observatory and outcome of recent scientific activities.
As one of three divisions within the NOAO Office of Public Affairs & Educational Outreach, the NOAO Public Outreach group manages all activities at the Kitt Peak Visitor Center, including the center’s educational exhibits and retail operations, three daily tours of Kitt Peak observatories, the Kitt Peak docent/volunteer program, all educational programs for visiting school classrooms and the general public, and increasingly popular nighttime observing experiences for both the general public and advanced amateur astronomers. These programs have been modified and expanded over the past several years.
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