For four consecutive days, Monday 15th – Thursday 18th February 2016 a group of four astronomy researchers from the University of Southampton engaged passengers waiting in the departure lounge at Southampton Airport with their world leading astronomy research on supernovae. To start up a conversation with passengers waiting in the lounge the astronomers were handed out compressed towels with supernova printed on them.
The scientists then used various hands-on demos to explain what a supernova is and why the research they do at the University of Southampton is so important and exciting. The astronomers hope had conversations with over 1,450 passengers about their scientific research across the four days of the activity.
There were a variety of other freebies available to passengers such as pens, cloth bags and colouring in sets.
The activity was funded by a Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) public engagement small award to see how members of the public who wouldn’t normally choose to attend science events respond to discussion about astronomy research in an environment where they would not be expect it. This is also one of the first attempts to communicate science in an airport departure lounge (beyond the security gates).
The Southampton airport astronomers were engaging the public with the research of the University of Southampton Supernova Group. More information about the members of the group and their astronomy research can be found here: http://supernova.soton.ac.uk
|Solomon checking out the new planets on the ceiling.|
Passengers we spoke to were encouraged to tweet pictures with their freebies using the hashtag #AstroAirport and fill out a paper evaluation form. For those people who tweeted or instagramed we entered them into a prize draw to win glow in the dark planets and for those who filled out the paper form they were entered into a prize draw to win a Lottie Stargazer Doll and/or a Lego Research Insititute set. Photos of the prize winners can be seen below:
|Emily & Shannon complete with solar system earrings|
|Amy looking up at her own room solar system|
“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”
Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy