Case studies and presentations
Thursday 23 February
Since its inception in 2009, Astrofest has become one of the largest science events in Perth, and is a unique astronomy event of its type and scale in Australia. Each year over 4,000 visitors join every astronomy organisation in Perth for an evening’s entertainment, information and family fun with telescopes, talks and the opportunity to talk to WA’s astronomers.
A diverse cross section of the Perth community attends Astrofest each year, with about 70% of attendees having not attended an Astrofest before, and over 98% requesting future Astrofests. The age groups represented at Astrofest span fairly evenly from children through to older adults. Astrofest has great impact within the community, both in inspiring interest in astronomy and science, but also in communicating the major projects that are underway in WA, such as the Square Kilometre Array. Astrofest was also a finalist in the WA Science Awards in 2014, finishing in the top 3 contenders for ‘Science Engagement Initiative of the Year’.
Astrofest is evaluated via a feedback form that attendees fill out. From recent respondents:
- 89% said that Astrofest was a good way to learn about astronomy,
- 88% said they felt more inspired about astronomy after Astrofest,
- 86% said they were more interested in astronomy after Astrofest,
- 82% said Astrofest made them want to find out more about astronomy,
- 66% said that Astrofest has made them feel more confident about astronomy, and
- 60% said that Astrofest had changed the way they thought about astronomy.
The event also includes an exhibition of local astrophotography, featuring both stunning deep space images of distant objects as well as WA landscapes photographed at night.
In addition to the Perth event, Astrofest is now expanding to be a State-wide astronomy festival with satellite events in regional locations across WA. In this presentation I will outline our process of planning and funding Astrofest, the challenges we face, and our successes and also our evaluation methods and how we know we’re meeting our goals for Astrofest. I will also outline how we have built a single event planned for the International Year of Astronomy into a multi-event annual festival across the State.
Visitors to Astrofest are asked to fill out a digital feedback survey in order to enter a prize draw for a backyard telescope. Usually response rates are approx 10-12% of estimated visitor numbers, but we ask visitors to fill out only one feedback form per family. Only one response per device (IP locked) is allowed, and four kiosk computers are available for those without devices to use.
In previous years a bean poll was conducted to easily guage how many visitors to Astrofest had ever looked through a telescope before. Almost 2,000 people responded and 28% of respondents hadn’t ever looked through a telescope before Astrofest.
In addition to the feedback and bean polls, volunteers roaming the event collect postcodes from visitors. This data is added to the feedback and pre-registration information to produce an interactive map of the attendance at Astrofest. These maps were created using BatchGeo. Data was counted in Excel using a Pivot Table.