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La comunicació pública de l'astronomia

  • Disseminating Astronomy to the general public and its contribution to scientific culture
  • 3 ECTS
  • From 3rd to 26th November 2003


  • Vicent Martínez. Director of the Astronomical Observatory, Universitat de València


  • Peter Coles (University of Nottingham)
  • Juan Fabregat (Astronomical Observatory of the Universitat de València)
  • Isabel Hawkins (NASA, University of Berkeley)
  • Vicent Martínez (Astronomical Observatory of the Universitat de València) 


The text written by the professor Daniel R. Altschuler, director of the Observatory Arecibo, is a prologue to V. J. Martínez’s book “Astronomía Fundamental”. It defines perfectly the objective of the course:

“Because of the fact that Astronomy is an ancient science that has been studied by different civilizations, it has indeed an important cultural influence in many societies and nations. Many countries offer Astronomy courses in schools and universities as part of their science and engineering students’ education.  Nowadays, we are facing a social paradox. On the one hand, we live in a world that is more and more dependent of scientific knowledge and technology. On the other hand, the number of pseudo-scientific ideas has increased and people do not have enough knowledge about science. Astronomy represents a special shelter within this contradictory environment. It is undeniable that astronomy is noteworthy because a large amount of people are interested in the subject: there are many organisations of enthusiasts, popular magazines... To a certain extent, this is because astronomy is tangible. By simply observing a solar eclipse, a meteor shower or the rings of Saturn, we are doing astronomy. The necessary tools to do astronomy are easy to use and not very expensive. Professionally speaking, an increased number of tools in the Earth and Space continue the study of Cosmos. For instance, Galileo Galilei observed the Sky for the first time with a small telescope and discovered the wonders of the Universe. Each year, more efficient tools that reveal us new sides of the universe are invented. An international network of researchers produces a boundless flow of information. The results of this activity are human heritage. Astronomy provides an ideal channel for scientific dissemination. I don’t say this because of the fact that I am an expert on this field. It is not difficult when discussing important astronomical issues to include elements that illustrate scientific knowledge. I mean using this matter to show evidence that has resulted in a certain degree of knowledge, illustrating in this way the scientific process. Astronomy is also the ideal carrier to fight some of the most popular pseudo-scientific beliefs such as astrology or ufology. Astronomy is useful to make students more interested in other fields of studies such as Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

The practices with the telescope will be carried out in two groups of 15 students.
NASA will provide didactic materials to develop this course. A trip to the Astronomical Centre of Alto Turia (Aras de los Olmos) is programmed out of the academic timetable.


  1. The dissemination of Astronomy in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  2. Einstein and the eclipse of 1919: a paradigm of the impact of social scientific communication
  3. The sky in history. Observing the sky. Basic training on astronomy. Use of the telescope. Observing with the robotic telescope TROBAR. Large tools for studying the Universe.
  4. Cosmology: the science that explains the Universe. Its impact in social consciousness and scientific culture.
  5. The programmes of astronomical dissemination of the most important space agencies such as ESA and NASA.

Places: 30
Timetable: Monday-Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Cielo Room at the Head Office of the Astronomical Observatory, Research Institutes Buildings of Burjassot-Paterna Campus

Price: €50

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