European Astronomical Society (EAS)
30 June 2020 

Astronomy on Tap Going Virtual and Viral

Astronomy on Tap (AoT), the world-wide outreach phenomenon, which has been conquering local pubs and the hearts of many people, has now gone virtual and viral.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions on public life, AoT satellites proactively moved their events online. During the lockdown, virtual AoT events became very popular. Individual AoT locations have hosted up to 6 events during this time with peak views ranging from 20 up to 130, and total views of the order of 100 to 1500. 

This afternoon (Tuesday 30 June, 1 pm) during Lunch Session LS9 of the online meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) the organizers will discuss the success of the AoT program.  

Founded in NYC in 2013 by Dr Meg Schwamb and coordinated since then by Dr Emily Rice,  AoT currently lists 79 locations, 69 of which are active, and 15 are active online. Past events featured talks (2-4 per event/location) from professional scientists, educators, students and even astronauts, UN members, and artists. The audience is entertained in a relaxed pub or cafe environment in the evening, participating in games (1-2 per event/location) and winning prizes. Participation is around 30-200 people depending on the location, with most being regulars. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic virtual events started in March from satellites such as AustinBonnBryanBudapestEdinburgGothenburgGroningenLausanneLeidenLondonLos Angeles and Caltech Astro OutreachSt. Louis, and from July CambridgeKöln and NYC. Several locations already had an online presence with tens to hundreds of views on live streaming events and hundreds for recorded shows, talks and interviews. 

Some of these locations have also discussed the difficulties of lockdowns to each individual or have started hosting a ‘virtual pub’ where the audience can interact with the speakers after the virtual event. 

The highlight of the virtual events was the “Astronomy on Tap on the Couch” event organised last April by more than 40 satellite locations hosting 32 presenters. This collaborative effort of the whole AoT community was a 7-hour-long live event streaming on YouTube and running across several time zones, from Israel to Los Angeles. The event featured astronomy-related talks, quizzes, discussion and music presentations. It reached an astonishing number of 300 simultaneous views and currently has more than 4200 total views. 

The message Astronomy on Tap wants to bring across is that collaboration, inclusion, and the use of virtual tools, keep us together and united. This spirit will help us move forward even during the most difficult of times.

Astronomy on Tap: useful links and locations currently active online: 

Astronomy on Tap AoTotC 
Los Angeles
Caltech astro outreach 
St Louis 


Astronomy on Tap contacts 
Eleni Vardoulaki, Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg & Max-Planck-Institut fürRadioastronomie, Bonn, Germany

Lizette Gúzman, Leiden University 

Emily Rice, City University of New York

Media contact
Marieke Baan
Press Officer European Astronomical Society for #EASLeiden2020
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