As 2019 turned to 2020, Asteroid Day was embarking on a new journey. We hired a full-time Program Director and moved her out to Luxembourg. We began planning our events earlier than ever, inviting an array of new and returning asteroid experts to join us for Asteroid Day LIVE. We almost paid the caterer for the Gala dinner—and then COVID happened.
While we watched as partners and other organizations cancelled their annual events all over the world, we internally discussed what that would mean for us. But the truth of the matter remained: Asteroid Day is the UN-designated international day of awareness and education about asteroids held on 30 June each year to mark the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact and as such, the show must go on!
The success of this year’s Asteroid Day LIVE program was the result of close collaboration with our partners and sponsors. Thanks to the skilled work of the BCE production and design team, we were able to transform Zoom conference calls into curated panels with stimulating visuals and video. SES was able to broadcast the signal to satellites so viewers could tune in from their homes. Finally, thanks to the Luxembourg Space Agency, Association of Space Explorers, and the European Space Agency; through their support, we provided viewers with an exceptional lineup of guest speakers and the latest information on asteroid research, missions, and the past, current, and future prospects of these incredible celestial bodies.
Asteroid Day virtual events reached around the globe. Events ranged from live webinars to virtual story contests in Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and United Arab Emirates to name just a few. These independently hosted events are the heart and soul of Asteroid Day. They, like us, made the plunge into hosting online events instead of their regular in-person events at their schools, astronomy clubs, museums, and other venues. Hundreds of these virtual events in dozens of languages were hosted in the days leading up to Asteroid Day and are continuing post Asteroid Day.
This year has undoubtedly been one of the most unique productions of Asteroid Day, but as we prepare to take some much needed time off, we look forward to taking these new virtual skills and providing opportunities for our astronauts and experts to teach the world about asteroids!
Global Events Worldwide:
This is just a small sample of the events that happened around the world during Asteroid Day 2020. We will publish event highlights throughout the year in our newsletter. (Sign up here if you don’t already subscribe)
African Astronomical Observatory | Sutherland, South Africa
Dr. Nicolas Erasmus, an asteroid researcher at South African Astronomical Observatory, gave a lecture to space club students and some members from the Observatory about near-Earth asteroids and how they are discovered, monitored, and characterised. The event was held online via Zoom at the South African Astronomical Observatory in South Africa. Click here to watch the presentation.
Millennium Institute of Astrophysics | Santiago, Chile
Twenty national institutions (led by the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics MAS) carried out two days of non-stop online programming on June 29 and 30. The event, which was broadcasted simultaneously on Facebook Live and on the “Asteroid Day in Chile” YouTube channel, included more than 20 talks, workshops, panels, exclusive songs, and astronomical activities. You can watch these various presentations here.
The Exploration Museum | Húsavík, Iceland
The Exploration Museum in Húsavík produced a live broadcast from Iceland for #AsteroidDay with Tira Shubart and Örlygur Hnefill Örlygsson (Orly Orlyson). Click here to watch the stream.
Dome Planetarium | Illinois, USA
Planetarium Educator Kyle Denny hosted a livestream on different asteroids in our solar system. Watch the stream on Dome’s Facebook page here.
SPACE Surat | Gujarat, India
At SPACE Surat, an organization dedicated to exploring science and space in India, held a live interaction to spread awareness and hazards of asteroids among students and the general public and to inform them about incidents that happened in the past due to the impact of asteroids. An activity was used to demonstrate the impact of asteroids on Earth. Watch the livestream here.
Christa McAuliffe Center | Framingham, Massachusetts
In addition to suggesting some at-home Asteroid Day activities, the staff of the McAuliffe Center hosted a livestream on the hunt for asteroids. Pat Monteith addressed some myths and facts about asteroids and discussed the NASA missions that are currently expanding our knowledge of these small rocky bodies that sometimes make their way close to Earth. You can watch this educational program via Christa McAuliffe Center’s YouTube page here.
Watch this year’s Asteroid Day LIVE
“Asteroid Safari: Finding the Elusive Space Rocks”
In April 2020, approximately nine previously unknown asteroids were discovered every single night. But is this fast enough? Asteroid experts discuss the accelerating rate of asteroid discoveries and how to keep track of everything they find.
“Target Asteroid: How to Move an Incoming Space Rock”
Launching next year, NASA’s DART spacecraft will crash headlong into a small asteroid to change the asteroid’s orbit by a small amount. Then ESA’s Hera mission will map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass. Find out about this extraordinary mission.
“From Satellites to Asteroids: Luxembourg’s and ESA’s role”
Luxembourg has established itself as a European centre for space, working in close partnership with ESA for the last 15 years and now set to play a key role in the future of space exploration by creating a space economy.
“Preparing the Future: Making Tools to Investigate Asteroids”
The Near Earth Object Modelling and Payloads for Protection (NEO-MAPP) project develops instruments, technologies, and data exploitation techniques for future spacecraft missions to asteroids. These include seismology stations to be dropped on asteroids, ground-based observing campaigns to support asteroid missions, and the best way to combine data sets to extract the maximum knowledge about asteroids.
“Ask Me Anything About Asteroids with Astronauts”
For this special Asteroid Day panel, we gathered together NASA, ESA, and private astronauts. We then went to social media and crowdsourced questions about space and asteroids for a special Astronaut Ask me Anything.
“Seeing is Believing: The Art of Asteroid Computer Simulations”
Using cutting-edge data visualisation techniques, this panel will show what happens when asteroids plunge into our atmosphere and the strange way they can be distorted by the Earth’s gravity when they fly close to our planet.
“Ingredients of Life: Bringing Asteroid Samples to Earth”
Japan’s Hayabusa 2 and the USA’s OSIRIS-REx mission will revolutionise asteroid science by bringing rock samples back to Earth. Find out about the science behind these daring missions and their current statuses.
Interview with The Science Guy and CEO of the Planetary Society Bill Nye
Interview with British Astronomer Royal, Cosmologist and Astrophysicist Martin Rees
Interview with European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Wörner
Interview with Luxembourg Minister of the Economy Franz Fayot
Interview with Asteroid Foundation Vice Chair and Romanian Cosmonaut Dorin Prunariu
Interview with Swedish Astronaut and Director of KTH Space Center Christer Fuglesang
Asteroid Day TV ran from 1 June to 4 July featuring content from TedEd, Discovery, Geoff Notkin (aka Meteorite Man), NASA, the European Space Agency, Asteroid Day original content and more. Audiences watched international experts, astronauts and cosmonauts, scientists, engineers, physicists, educators and policymakers, as well as special guests who serve as ‘Asteroid Day ambassadors’ talk about the latest in missions, asteroid education and planetary science.
Asteroid Days global press reach was well over five billion as measured by Meltwater. For a small sampling we had articles by CNN (English), BILD (German) NDTV (Indian) YAHOO!/Geekwire (English) El Debate (Spanish) La Repubblica (Italian) Futura Sciences (French) Lëtzebuerger Journal (Luxembourg our home country) which represent just a few of the global articles in dozens of languages from around the world leading up to and just after Asteroid Day 2020.
Our combined press and social media reach measured through Talkwalker was over nine billion. Our Asteroid Day LIVE Digital program was watched by more than two million people on Twitch TV between 29 June and 1 July in addition to those viewers tuning in via SES satellites, which we can not measure.
Special thanks to our sponsors and partners who made this year possible:
Hear from our sponsors of this year’s broadcast:
Interview with CEO of the Luxembourg Space Agency Marc Serres
Interview with Head of Production & Digital Media Operations at BCE Xavier Thillen
Interview with Chief Technology Officer of the SES Ruy Pinto
Interview with Chief Sales Officer Defence & Space Technology at Euro-Composites Christoph Herrmann
Interview with Astronaut and Executive Director of B612’s Asteroid Institute Ed Lu
Interview with Chief Executive Officer and owner of OHB Marco Fuchs
Interview with Chief Executive Officer of the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce Carlo Thelen
It was so great to celebrate #AsteroidDay with you all yesterday. Thanks for a fun day of asteroid awareness! Have you seen the Happy #AsteroidDay mash up of some of our speakers and hosts? Featuring Bill Nye The Science Guy, Nicole Stott, Lord Martin Rees, Sarah Cruddas, Tom Jones (Ask the Astronaut by Astronaut Tom Jones), Anousheh Ansari, Gianluca Masi, and so many more!
Posted by Asteroid Day on Wednesday, July 1, 2020