Jana Ticha(1), Milos Tichy(1,2), Michaela Honkova(1,3), Michal Kocer(1)
(1) Klet Observatory, Zatkovo nabrezi 4, CZ-370 01 Ceske Budejovice
South Bohemia, Czech Republic
(2) Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Advanced Geodesy, Prague, Czech Republic
(3) Brno University of Technology, Faculty of Mechanical Enginnering, Institute of Mathematics, Brno, Czech Republic
Considering recent research results there is growing interest in Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the impact hazard investigation among general public and media. Moreover, people like to see and hear about catastrophes, especially if they are far enough. This interest has generated an increasing number of enquiries from members of the public. Furthermore NEO related issues have outstanding educational value and outreach potential. So thus to maintain contact with the public could belong to the most important tasks/jobs of NEOs scientists and research institutions.
Our institution represents an unique liaison of the small professional research institution devoted especially to NEO studies (the Klet Observatory, Czech Republic) and the educational and public outreach branch (the Observatory and Planetarium Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic). It gives us an excellent opportunity for bringing NEO information to a wider audience. We obtained more than twenty years of wide experience in NEO public outreach and education.
There are various tools of public outreach aimed to NEO research and hazard. The most useful ones are special on-line magazines (e-zins), educational multimedia presentations for schools at different levels in planetarium, summer excursions for wide public at the Klet Observatory on the top of the Klet mountain, lectures, meetings and exhibitions. It seems to be very contributing and favoured by public to have opportunities for more or less informal meetings just with NEO researchers from time to time. Very important part of NEO public outreach consists of continuous contact with journalists and media.
There are many interesting and well designed websites maintained by NASA, JPL, ESA, the Planetary Society, many observatories and institutes, but naturally the big majority of them are written in English. Considering that there is still an unsatisfactory level of knowledge of English language in our country, we have decided to design a NEOs website in Czech about NEOs based on Klet long-time observing program, international cooperation and experience in education and public outreach programs.
Czech public service on NEOs - www.planetky.cz - was designed by the Klet Observatory on February 2001. Till 2012 December there are 298 original articles written for general public by research team members regarding minor planets, spread into six themes. This number includes 114 articles directly about Near-Earth Objects. It has been indicated (December 16, 2012) that more than 317,000 visitors has viewed more than 2,558,000 pages on web www.planetky.cz so far. On the basis of language similarities this website has also been visited by many people from Central and East European countries like Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Russia and others.
There are following services for visitors on www.planetky.cz pages: search inside articles using full-text search procedure, sorting out articles into six themes for better orientation, server statistics, external links to important NEO webpages all over the world, orbit diagrams of minor planets, electronic postcards containing asteroid images, RSS Chanel, redirecting within easy reach from Facebook and Twitter profile of the Klet Observatory, the latest news from an complementary Klet server www.komety.cz where information regarding Near-Earth comets can be found.
Listing some main topics presented to public since 1992 we can mention comet Swift-Tuttle and its approach in 2126, several close approaches of asteroid Toutatis, 1997 XF11 affair, future close approaches of Apophis, space missions to asteroids Eros and Itokawa, 2008 TC3, its impact and meteorites found, NEOWISE results, Klet Observatory NEO discoveries and so on.
The main goal of all mentioned NEO educational and public outreach tools is to bring relevant, clear and sound, comprehensive and up to date information to students, educators, wide public and media.