skip to content


The IoA has a diverse and ambitious public outreach programme, led by our Public Astronomer Matt Bothwell (  All postgraduate students are strongly encouraged to join in with some of the outreach activities, as they provide excellent practice and experience at communicating your subject. This will serve you well when it comes to interviews, professional seminars, giving talks in your College and of course explaining what you study to your family and friends.

Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved, there are all kinds of different opportunities including:

  • Stargazing evenings for troops of brownies/cubs/scouts who visit us in the early evenings as part of their Astronomy badges. Typically, there are several groups per week looking for keen volunteers to answer space questions and show them around the night sky
  • Contribution to the IoA's active YouTube channel where we post a lot of public content, including a series of astronomy talks for children, a summer astronomy book club, and a weekly ‘ask an astronomer’ livestream run by the postgraduate students. If you would like to participate in any of our online outreach events or have any suggestions, please let us know
  • School career’s fairs
  • The Kavli-funded `AstroEast’ programme, bringing astronomy to deprived schools across East Anglia

For more information on our activities, look at the IoA's pages dedicated to the Public.

Public Open Evenings

The IoA holds public open evenings on Wednesdays 19:00 - 21:00 pm, from the start of October to the end of March. These are incredibly popular and have been attended virtually as well as in-person, by around 17,000 people. The evening begins with a 30-minute public talk, given by a post-doc or student from the IoA on any aspect of Astronomy at a very general level. This is followed by public observing or, in the case of cloudy weather, by tea and biscuits.

Postgraduate students are expected to help staff the evenings, and there is a modest remuneration for helping out as front of house and with the observing. Open evening talks also provide a very friendly and supportive audience on which to practice your communication skills. The sign-up sheet to volunteer to help can be found here. The IoA has a number of historical telescopes on site which are available for use, and you will receive instruction on their use as part of your first-year training.

Please note: In order to be paid for any work you do, you must first fill in a Worker’s Agreement Form. Details of this will be discussed during the outreach training sessions at the start of the year.

Cambridge Festival Open Afternoon

Every March we hold an Open Afternoon for the general public as part of the annual Cambridge Festival. It’s normally held on the last Saturday of the Festival.

The department is filled with displays and demonstrations, and everyone possible is expected to help out in some capacity. Over a thousand people attend from diverse backgrounds, and helping out on the day is always an interesting and entertaining experience.