Friday, February 13, 2009

Sorry - did I just break your mental image?

Last night I gave a talk to a local Astronomical Society. I haven't done this too much before, preferring to spend my outreach time talking to school kids in general. However the Astronomical Society asked (well they asked my boss, and he passed it off to me) so I said yes.

In general it was actually an OK evening. I'm a fairly comfortable speaker, especially when I'm sure I know the subject better than my audience (it's only those department colloquia which make me nervous now), and they all seemed to enjoy it. I got a lot of very relevant questions which I enjoyed answering. However the audience was depressingly homogeneous (in the old white guy sense)... I'm pretty sure I broke most of those people's mental images of an Astronomer. I think that's a good thing.... but it surprises me. This is an Astronomy Society which invites professional Astronomers to come and give talks once a month. Can they really have never invited a young female astronomer before?

Still, dealing with their frank disbelief that I was the speaker (and even more disbelief that I will be the speaker at a large national amateur astronomy meeting in April - a fact I couldn't persuade them to believe!) gives me a amusing anecdote to write about here!

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