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Big Ideas in Astronomy
A Proposed Definition of Astronomy Literacy

J. Retrê, P. Russo, H. Lee, E. Penteado, S. Salimpour, M. Fitzgerald, J. Ramchandani, M. Pössel, C. Scorza, L. L. Christensen, E. Arends, S. M. Pompea, W. Schrier

This is the motto of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Off i-ce for Astronomy Outreach. If “All” is a very vast term to define socie-ty and its communities, “Astronomy” as a body of knowledge is also similarly vast. This project, “Big Ideas in Astronomy”, explores the issue: “What should science-educated citizens know about astronomy?”

As a result of several discussions, meetings, workshops, presentations, telecoms and text interactions in this document we propose a set of Big Ideas in Astronomy, a Roadmap to Astronomy Literacy Goals. This document establishes the “Big Ideas” and supporting concepts that all citizens on our planet should know about astronomy.

Big Ideas in Astronomy builds on the pioneering American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061. The AAAS Project 2061 started in 1986, the year Halley’s Comet passed near Earth. The AAAS was intrigued by what affects children’s connection to the natural world — who were starting school then will see the return of the Comet. What scientific and technological changes will they also see in their lifetime? How can education prepare them to make sense of how the world works; to think critically and independently; and to lead intere-sting, responsible, and productive lives in a culture increasingly shaped by science and technology? Big Ideas in Astronomy also expands on the work developed by other scientific disciplines and projects, namely: Cli-mate Science Literacy, Earth Science Literacy Principles, Ocean Literacy and Big Ideas of Science.

Big Ideas in Astronomy presents eleven Big Ideas and expands on them through sub-ideas and additional information. This document is desi-gned with educators and astronomers in mind, it is a guiding document to decide which topics they should address in their teaching, training sessions, outreach activities or resources development. However, this needs to be a dynamic document, and we welcome comments and re-marks f rom the astronomy community, the astronomy education com-munity and the science education community.

International Astronomical Union (IAU)


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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia