Walkabout the Galaxy: Podcasting for Informal and Accessible Astronomy Outreach and Education

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Joshua E Colwell1, Adrienne Dove1, Ashley Kehoe1 and Tracy M Becker2, (1)University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, United States, (2)University of Central Florida, Physics, Orlando, FL, United States
“Walkabout the Galaxy” is a weekly podcast we have been publishing since May 2014 discussing astronomical news that is in the popular media at the time of recording. Episodes are 25-30 minutes in length and are informal in style: we emphasize one or two basic points while engaging in a free-form discussion of the topic with frequent tangential asides. The target audience is the interested layperson rather than a student, professional, or amateur of astronomy. The informal style is deliberately chosen to keep the podcast from sounding like a classroom lesson and to improve the reach of the podcast to a broader public. Guests have included both experts and laypeople. The number of episode downloads varies by nearly a factor of two from episode to episode (~450 to 750). We will present statistics on downloads and subscriptions, and correlations with episode length, subject matter, and style of episode title. The style of the content cannot influence download statistics, however, and it is not possible to track actual listenership data once the episodes are downloaded. We will discuss lessons learned in creating and producing an educational podcast as well as listener feedback.