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Paper: Cat Toes, Monday Motivations, and Astrophysics
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 478
Authors: Ramos, K.; Mattson, B.; Mitchell, S. E.
Abstract: Black holes, dark matter, and supernovae\ldots astrophysics can be a very exciting topic but difficult for the public to understand. NASA Universe, managed by the NASA Goddard AstroComms Team, serves as the agency's thematic astrophysics social media presence across multiple social platforms. These accounts represent a variety of astrophysics missions, programs, and projects from across the agency, and we coordinate with astrophysics flagship mission accounts and other NASA accounts to tell the story of how the universe works and how we study it. We use connections to pop culture and social holidays (like National Cat Day on October 29, where we compared cat feet to NGC 6334, the Cat's Paw Nebula) to help make astrophysics concepts and missions more relatable to our online audience who may not have a strong science background. Paired with these posts are elaborate and captivating multimedia, such as videos, dynamic illustrations, and animated GIFs, that catch the eyes of the audience as they scroll through their social media timelines. We will discuss how connecting astrophysics concepts, discoveries, and missions to pop culture and social holidays helps make these difficult-to-learn concepts less intimidating for our audience.
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