Nowadays, there are so many ways to share your science with the rest of the world: from virtual platforms like Skype a Scientist, which pairs schools across the world with a scientist, to Letters to a Pre-Scientist, which involves scientists writing snail mail letters to middle and high school students. Twitter is also an incredibly popular medium for communicating science, and one new way space scientists are getting the word out about their work is through the Twitter account Astrotweeps.
Astrotweeps is a Twitter account that astronomers at any level (undergraduates, PhD students, professors, researchers in the private sector, etc.) “take over” for a week. Scientists can use the account to help communicate with followers about their research, talk about interesting things in the field or what it’s like to be a scientist, and or discuss any other topics about their career they would like. The platform was started in 2014 at the 223rd American Astronomical Society meeting; since then, astronomers who study everything from exoplanets to pulsars to cosmochemistry have run the account. It’s a great way to share the cool science you’re doing with the world!
“Before I volunteered to host Astrotweeps, I’d seen a lot of people do science outreach on Twitter, but had never participated in it myself. Astrotweeps was a great opportunity to do outreach for my field of astronomy to an already established audience, getting feedback and engagement that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It was loads of fun, and made me a better science communicator in the process!” says Oliver Hall, a PhD student at the University of Birmingham.
University of Michigan PhD student Jenny Calahan echoes this mentality: “Writing for Astrotweeps gave me an outlet to express my passion and excitement for my research! I got to nerd-out big time to an audience that was ready and excited to hear about it. I made threads about radio astronomy, ALMA, protoplanetary disks… It was a really fun exercise to figure out how to condense my research expertise into digestible chunks that could be accompanied with gifs. I got to show my creative and funny side alongside my big nerd energy.”
Taking over the account is very easy. Astronomers simply fill out a form, are contacted by a member of the Astrotweeps staff, sign up for a week they’d like, and then start tweeting when their slot rolls around! You don’t even have to have a Twitter account to participate, everything is through the AstroTweeps account.