I organized and participated in many public outreach and educational projects since my high school days at XV Gymnasium (MIOC). Starting out as an amateur astronomer, I always loved sharing the views of the cosmos through the eyepiece of a telescope. I got interested in astrophysics working on small research projects that won a few awards at national astronomy competitions. Below you can find a brief description of some outreach projects I participated in over the years in roughly reverse chronological order.

Event Horizon Telescope Outreach and Public Relations

I started working with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration in September 2017, and have been leading collaboration's public outreach efforts in the period 2017--2020: maintenance of the official website and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube), organization and coordination of public events, production of promotional and educational material, etc. I enjoy producing graphical matetrial that illuminates the important concepts behind a complex experiment such as the EHT, either myself, or working with professional artists -- see, e.g., these animations that I helped to produce: #1, #2, #3. I also provided subtitles in my native Croatian for EHT-related videos such as #1, #2, #3, and translation of some EHT press releases.

With the creation of the Outreach Working Group within the EHT collaboration in 2017, which I coordinated together with colleagues Fumie Tazaki and Eduardo Ros until the end of 2020, our activities further expanded to preparation of strategies and press material for the major announcement of the first EHT result: first image of a black hole. On this we worked closely with public relations and media professionals spanning Europe, North and South America, and East Asia, coordinating six major press events, a dozen others, and about fifty press releases from EHT stakeholder institutions, major funding agencies, and numerous affiliated institutions. A summary of this large effort, which is estimated to have reached a billion people worldwide according to media professionals, appeared in the Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal (Christensen et al. 2019) published by the International Astronomical Union.

Outreach Events around the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

A number of outreach events are regularly organized by astronomers in Cambridge, MA, and I do my best to contribute whenever possible. I participated in the annual "Cambridge Explores the Universe" event, hosting several different activities: an "Ask an Astronomer" Q&A session, a star-clock workshop, and a coloring corner for the youngest visitors. I also participated in a "Flipped Science Fair" at a local middle school (organized by Joel Leja), where students judged the scientists on their poster presentations.

A Ticket to Explore Jet Propulsion Lab

As a part of my work with NuSTAR at Caltech, I participated in "A Ticket to Explore JPL" events. This very popular multi-day outreach event, organized each spring by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, showcases many different missions and space-based astronomical observatories. At the NuSTAR booth we talked about studies of black holes using X-ray telescopes and played with the effects of black holes on the curvature of "spacetime" with interested members of the public regardless of their age!

Cahill Rooftop Observatory Management

credit: CRO

Following a year as an assistant manager, I have been the manager of the Cahill Rooftop Observatory (CRO) between 2014 and 2017. This small observatory includes an observing platform on the rooftop of the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics where members of the Caltech community can use a computerized 14-inch telescope and a number of smaller ones, for education, outreach or leisure stargazing. I managed the observatory, maintained its equipment, trained dozens of users, coordinated outreach projects with the Caltech Astronomy Outreach Group, and organized rooftop observing sessions for small groups of local students. Information about the observatory, its telescopes and activities can be found on the CRO website.

Caltech Astronomy Outreach Group

As a member of the outreach team comprised mostly of graduate students and postdocs, I participated in many events we organized for the public at Caltech and in Pasadena. I had often gone to local public schools with a telescope for stargazing during science-themed events, and I organized sidewalk observing evenings at popular spots in Pasadena. The pictures below are from our public viewing of the partial Solar eclipse in October 2014 (copyright: LA Times). Under the leadership of Cameron Hummels and Erika Hamden we started a series of astronomy lectures and stargazing with telescopes at Caltech, as well as weekly Astronomy on Tap hangouts in Oldtown Pasadena. Photos from some of these events can be found here.

credit: LA Times credit: LA Times credit: LA Times credit: LA Times

Traces of My Outreach Work on the Web

  • Croatian translation of the press release on the first EHT observation of the nearby active galaxy Centaurus A (original in English)
  • press release from the EHT Collaboration for which I provided a quote as one of the principal authors of the paper on multi-wavelength observations of M87, and two folow-up stories in Yale News and Yale Daily News based on interviews given to reporters Jim Shelton and Nicole Rodriguez
  • official webpage of the EHT Collaboration, and the official accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, which I maintained and generated content for since September 2017 (building the audience from just a few hundred to >130 thousand followers today)
  • interviews on the first results from the EHT Collaboration in Croatian: (i) article by Tihana Dauenhauer for Index, (ii) radio show Zvjezdoznanci by Vedran Vrhovec for Radio Student (recording here), (iii) radio show Eppur si mouve by Iva Tatic for Hrvatski Radio 3 (recording here)
  • Why Supermassive Black Holes Are Hard to See and How to See Them -- a popular-level article on supermassive black holes and recent advances in observing their environments (The Global Scientist, 2015)
  • Croatian translation of subtitles for the Eyes on the Skies educational movie about telescopes made by European Southern Observatory for the International Year of Astronomy (2009)
  • Croatian translation of the How many stars? project website for raising awareness of light pollution during the International Year of Astronomy (2009)
  • educational project Sky as a Gift (Nebo na poklon in Croatian) which I participated in between 2005 and 2008, first as an educator working with elementary school teachers and later as one of the project leaders
  • www.phobos.pcm.hr (local copy) -- a website that I created and maintained with a few friends between 2004 and 2007, about amateur astronomy and our earliest outreach activities around Zagreb, Croatia, some of which are shown below

Mislav Baloković -- last updated 2021 Jul 19

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