Public Outreach Volunteer Opportunities

People in the Texas astronomy program broadly engage in public outreach. In particular, the McDonald Observatory's Education and Outreach Office is one of the country's leaders in astronomy outreach and education. The office manages programs ranging from professional development for teachers, to star parties and facility tours for the 60,000 annual visitors to the observatory in West Texas, to creation and distribution of educational radio programs heard by millions of people each week, and web sites accessed by nearly a million unique visitors each month. StarDate radio, the oldest and most popular radio program of its kind in the country, brings information about the cosmos to an estimated 5 million listeners throughout North America and Europe each week. These diverse programs within the observatory, together with community events supported by astronomy on and off campus, offer students, scientists and faculty a wide variety of opportunities in outreach and education.

Below is a list of volunteer opportunities. To correct or add information here please contact

Name Date Contact Description Website
Austin Astronomical Society Monthly Lara Eakins or AAS Give a talk about your research
Astronomy Students Association Weekly during the school year Sandra Catlett Be their grad student liason, give a talk at a meeting, or lead a star party
Career Days Varies Lara Eakins Talk at a school about your career, or let a student shadow you  
EXES Teacher Associate Program 6 Saturdays throughout the school year Keely Finkelstein Give a talk/lead an activity with middle & high school teachers
Expanding Your Horizons March Sharlym Aquino
(512) 916-4775
Science conference for girls - plan your own workshop or volunteer with the physics department
Explore UT March Sandra Catlett UT open house - man a table for the astro department
Family Weekend Oct/Nov Sandra Catlett UT event - man a table for the astro department
Hot Science, Cool Talks Occasional Rebecca Johnson Set up/break down and man booth at astronomy talks
McDonald Observatory Teacher Workshops Summer Keely Finkelstein Assist with teacher workshops at McDonald
Mentoring, Astro Dept Continuous Sandra Catlett Mentor an undergrad astronomy major
Mentoring, CNS Continuous   College of Natural Sciences mentoring of undergrads
Painter Hall Telescope Public Nights Each semester Derek Wills TA position running the Painter Hall telescope public nights on Fridays and Saturdays
School Talks/Science Days Varies Lara Eakins Talk at a school about astronomy  
Science Fair Judges Varies Lara Eakins Judge school science fair projects  
Science Olympiad February Mary Miller, UTeach Create and grade astronomy quiz for high school students  
Star Parties Off-Campus Varies Lara Eakins Lead star parties with portable telescopes  
StarDate Continuous Sandra Preston McDonald Observatory's radio program and magazine. Do technical editing, science writing
Texas State History Museum Occasional Rebecca Johnson Set up/break down and man booth at astronomy space talks  
UTeach-AISD Earth Science Institute July Mary Miller (UTeach) Lead 2-day workshop on astronomy for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade  
Wildflower Center Astronomy Nature Night 2x/year Rebecca Johnson Set up/break down and man booth during star party