NYC #popscope

When was the last time you looked at the craters on the moon, the rings around Saturn, or the four moons around Jupiter? #popscope — which stands for “pop-up telescope” — brings free astronomy nights to the public. When the skies are clear, we “pop-up” in different neighborhoods to promote community-building through science.

We aim to 1) encourage social interactions that challenge norms and erode spatial boundaries, 2) promote science literacy by providing exciting views of the night sky, and 3) contribute to public discourse over how public spaces are used and allocated.

#popscope was started in Ottawa, Canada in February 2014 and now also has a presence in Baltimore, MD; Philadelphia, PA; Jacksonville, FL; and NYC. Paramount to our philosophy is inclusivity, which means the homeless man walking by gets the same invitation to see the moon as does the business woman walking home from work. #popscope is highly mobile: we bring science to the people by visiting NYC's diverse neighborhoods that often vary by race and class.

To make our gatherings as successful as possible, we work with community leaders to bring telescopes to neighborhoods in an inclusive, safe, culturally sensitive, and socially aware manner. We've started partnership conversations with community members in Bed Stuy and Bushwick as well as with teachers in Sunset Park and Borough Park.

We use social media to announce the location and date of each event. A virtual community complements our in-person gatherings and extends #popscope’s reach. Users are able to learn about upcoming astronomical events, post questions, and share astronomy-related articles and 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 will also inspire and bring people together in The Big Apple!

Follow NYC #popscope on Facebook and Twitter

Funded by New York City, NY (May 2016)