The question I get asked most often is “Why do you do astronomy?” There is usually confusion in their voice that comes from some combo of not expecting the 30-something female next to them to be a scientist, and just not knowing how someone ends up transforming a 5-year old’s interest in space into a more adult passion for the stars.
While I have my own reasons for going into astronomy, they are just that – my own reasons. Each of our different, and all of us within CosmoQuest have our own reasons to be part of the astronomy, planetary, and space exploration communities.
Together, I think the stories of how each of us ended up engaged in these fields can serve to inspire.
And inspiring people with science is a powerful thing!
We have created a project – We are CosmoQuest – to harness this potential for inspiration. The site is designed to collect your stories and the stories of the people busy building this site. This project is inspired by the “This I Believe” essay series. Just as that project is meant to be a public dialogue on belief, we’re hoping this project will become a public dialogue on why people engage in science (or at least astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration).
In addition to collecting essays, we are also collecting basic biographical information and photos. We’re trying to show the diversity of people engaged in astronomy, from teachers to journalists, from professors to farmers, and across so many different fields. It is our hope that kids looking through this site will see themselves in the stories and will be inspired.
Engagement in “We are CosmoQuest” is open to anyone with a login to CosmoQuest. We are moderating the submissions (to weed out spammers and make sure no naughty photos sneak in), so this site should always be safe for you to point friends and kids at.
Currently, the site is somewhat sparse. It takes time to write an honest essay about why each of us is engaged in this field we love so much. Some people have been mulling over their essays for 6 weeks or so, and that’s ok. Over time the site will continue to grow as everyone finds their own voice.