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Sweden Calling: The story behind Asteroid Day Malmö

Turning Torso © Pol Felten

In our continued coverage of several Asteroid Day events around the world, we are bringing you a story from the Skåne region in Southern Sweden today. Tomas Diez, Vice Chairman of the Astronomical Society Tycho Brahe, is the man behind Asteroid Day Malmö and in this post, he is not only talking about how the Malmö event came to be, but also about the history of the Planetarium organising it. Here is what he had to say:

The Astronomical Society Tycho Brahe

“The observatory belonging to the Astronomical Society Tycho Brahe (Astronomiska Skällskapet Tycho Brahe, ASTB for short) is located outside Malmö in southern Sweden. Later this year we are celebrating 80 years as a society, which was founded by the notorious astronomer professor Knut Lundmark in 1937. Much later in 1973 our observatory was inaugurated, which currently holds a remote controlled telescope with an advanced CCD camera and another telescope for visual observations during our events onsite.

Late 2016 we started to talk about Asteroid Day and doing something during this day. The question was discussed on our board and we finally took the decision to go ahead. Since ASTB is working to popularise astronomy we do a number of recurring events such as the Perseids and “street astronomy” were we attend a large cultural night in the city of Lund every year for instance. But for Asteroid Day we wanted to try a different format and also work even harder to reach a broader audience.

Perseids © Astronomical Society Tycho Brahe

Plans for Asteroid Day Take Shape in Southern Sweden

The chosen location was a central hotel in Malmö with somewhat better capacity for around 200 participants as compared to the normal locations we use. We also wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere, which the chosen hotel will hopefully be able to fulfil in combination with the programme. Our lectures are quite short at around 30 minutes, with breaks of 30 minutes in between. The idea is simply to allow for questions and conversations, and to socialise with friends during the evening.

In total we will have four lectures (on the creation of asteroids and our solar system, on the asteroid belt, on planetary defence, and on space mining and probes), starting at 6 PM (doors open already at 5 PM for drinks and mingling) and we went for a somewhat bold final activity to try a live observation of a passing asteroid. However, since the night sky is bright here in Sweden during summer we decided to book time on a remote telescope in Spain to increase our odds for success.

The Challenge of Reaching an Audience

Many dedicated members has supported all the work to make this happen. The hardest part for us is to reach the broad audience, which is our purpose and none the least the purpose of International Asteroid Day. Therefore we decided to print a physical flyer which is distributed throughout numerous strategic locations such as libraries, the technical Museum and the University. But this turned out not to be quite enough, so we also took the opportunity to try out advertising on social media. With a small budget we suddenly had the ability to reach much further and especially to a broader audience. At the moment we don’t limit the targeted audience with keywords – just prioritise to reach as many people as possible with the message of our event. The knowledge accumulated during the marketing of Asteroid Day will also help us in the future work within ASTB.

So far it has been a thrilling but also a little nerve-wrecking period since we started the marketing. Will we have all the participants we hope for? Will the final live observation work out or do we end up with technical issues? The aim is very high – and we will just have to wait and hope for a wonderful evening on the 30th June!

Finally we also want to extend our warm thanks to Malmö municipality for financing the event.”

Stargazing © Astronomical Society Tycho Brahe

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Here at Asteroid Day Global, we send our best wishes for a successful first event to Skåne and hope that we could contribute to spreading the message of the Malmö event. For more information on Asteroid Day Malmö, please visit the website of the Tycho Brahe Astronomical Society and go to their dedicated page to register for the entire event or individual lectures.

If you can’t make it to Sweden or visit Malmö on June 30th, you are more than welcome to tune in to the 24 hour Asteroid Day live broadcast, and watch our 6-hour live broadcast from Luxembourg. And for our followers in Malmö and Lund, the Asteroid Day LIVE from Luxembourg segment ends at 6 PM, so you should definitely hop over to the Scandic Triangeln hotel to soak up even more information!

Our complete 24-hour live broadcast programme and schedule is available here. For the collected information and stream on June 30th, visit our Asteroid Day LIVE page!

Pol Felten

The author Pol Felten

Pol Felten is the Communications Manager of Asteroid Day Global. He works from the Luxembourg office.