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Baltimore #popscope

Look again at that dot. That's here, that's home, that's us. - Carl Sagan

When was the last time you looked at the stars, the craters of the moon, or the rings of Saturn? Baltimore #popscope aims to reconnect Baltimoreans to the night sky—and to each other—by hosting free, “pop up” astronomy nights in public spaces. The project is powered by the Baltimore Global Shapers hub, one of several multi-stakeholder communities at the World Economic Forum.

Building on the successes of similar projects in Ottawa and Philadelphia, #popscope (derived from “pop-up telescope”) envisions the spontaneous set up of telescopes for public use across Baltimore City on at least five occasions in Spring 2015. In doing so, we hope to: (1) encourage social interactions that challenge norms and erode spatial boundaries; (2) promote science by providing exciting views of the night sky; and (3) contribute to public discourse over how public spaces are used and allocated.

To make our gatherings as successful as possible, we will work with community leaders to bring telescopes to neighborhoods in an inclusive, safe, culturally sensitive, and socially aware manner. Toward the same goal, we will host these astronomy nights in a variety of strategic locations, including McElderry Park, Hampden, the Inner-Harbor, Stricker Street, and Patterson High School.

Given our spontaneity, we will use social media to announce the location and date of each event. A virtual community will complement in-person gatherings, and extend our reach of this project by linking participants to other similar movements in different cities. Users will be able to learn about upcoming astronomical events, post questions, and share astronomy related articles or photos.

The night sky has inspired and brought people together from the days of Stonehenge to the age of the Hubble Space Telescope. We believe it can also inspire and bring people together in The Charm City.

Our motto? Keep looking up, Baltimore!

Funded by Baltimore, MD (April 2015)