Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

Results of Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme 2023

The results have been announced of a call by the Europlanet Society to support funding proposals of €1000 to €5000 from its Regional Hubs, Committees and Working Groups and the Society Membership. Five projects have been supported in 2023:

French Hub proposal: Careers workshop at French Planetary Science Congress (€4900)

The French Planetary Science Congress will be held in Nantes in July 2024 conjointly with the French Astrobiology Society (SFE) and National Programme for Planetary Science (PNP), where two days will be devoted to astrobiology topics and two others to planetary science more generally. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support a one-day workshop devoted to early career researchers focussed on careers in planetary science, divided into talks from industry and academia about their diverse career paths, and workshops on topics such as “CV writing for industry”, “writing a good research grant”, a poster session in the afternoon will allow attendees to exchange with the invited speakers and other researchers at the conference. The whole event will be in French to maximise interaction between the masters and PhD students and the presenters.

Spain Portugal Hub proposal: Pro-Am occultations campaigns with a portable telescope (€3300)

Occultations of stars by small Solar System bodies provide relevant information about their atmosphere, rings, satellites and morphology. The most interesting results are usually obtained when several different chords of the same occultation event are gathered. Therefore, it is usually necessary to deploy different instruments across the predicted shadow path in order to maximise the probability of capturing relevant data.

Several members of the Sociedad Astronómica Granadina (an amateur astronomy group from the south of Spain) have collaborated in dozens of different ProAm occultation campaigns promoted by the IAA and other organizations, specially those involving transneptunian objects, Jupiter trojans and NEOs. Those campaigns usually involve traveling (sometimes thousands of kilometers) in order to correctly position the telescopes and auxiliary gear. To continue and improve collaborations, funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to acquire a more powerful (but still portable) telescope to obtain occultation data of fainter stars.

Central Europe Hub proposal: Orionids 2023 (€1400)

Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme to support “Orionids 2023”, a meteor astro-camp. During a weekend workshop that will take place in Banská Štiavnica, in central Slovakia, different astrophysicist and astronomers amateur will provide lectures about how to observe meteor showers and secondary meteor showers in a classical traditional way. This seminar will teach the participants how to be prepared theoretically for such an observation, what methodology (IMO) to use and how to practically observe a meteor shower in general. Afterwards, it will be given the knowledge of submitting the results in the IMO database. Another aim of the project is to teach a new lecturing team in order to maintain visual observation discipline, also nowadays in modern digital times. The plan for the future is to organize the observation of meteor showers at least 3 times a year. The best possibilities would be in Slovak dark sky parks or another convenient location. The expected number of participants of the Orionids 2023 is 12 with 4 lecturers. The first Orionids astro-camp is planned in Slovakia but international participants are also welcome

Central Europe Hub: Variable stars and exoplanet research meeting – support for international audience (€3060)

The Czech Variable stars meeting is traditionally organised by the Czech Astronomical Society, Variable stars and exoplanet section, association of professional and amateur astronomers predominantly from the Czech Republic, but also members from other european countries. This meeting has a long history, the last 54th meeting took place in November 2022 in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Average audience is between 50 and 100 participants, including online audience. Various topics with focus on pro-am research of variable stars and exoplanets are discussed. With the incresing number of international collaboration, there is a rise of international audience of the meeting. Last year’s meeting was also held in hybrid form. Funding was requested from the Europlanet Society to broaden focus of the meeting to the Central European international audience by formally dividing the meeting to consecutive international and Czech/Slovak sections, advertising the meeting on the European level and providing support for in-person participants – amateur astronomers and students. The support will comprise travel bursaries and support with translation of presentations and other material into English. Since 2021 there is also an student section in the form of a competition organised, where also students from other countries can participate.

Ireland-UK Hub: Europlanet Early-Career Networking at the British Planetary Science Conference 2024 (€4380)

The British Planetary Science Conference (BPSC) 2024 has been awarded by the UK Planetary Forum to Space Park Leicester (SPL). It will be held in June 2024 at Space Park and the adjacent National Space Centre in Leicester. Europlanet sponsorship was requested to raise awareness of society membership benefits in the UK. BPSC will start with a 1-day workshop for those new to the space and planetary science community, where experienced SPL engineers and project managers will lead examples of how space instruments and missions are developed. This will help facilitate wider access to new space exploration initiatives in the planetary and space science community, and is particularly focussed on connecting early-career researchers to new opportunities. The main 3-day part of the conference will consist of oral and poster sessions reflecting the range of topical planetary and space science activities in the UK, including results from sample return missions, Mars exploration, the Gas and Ice Giants, meteorites, Mercury. The main conference will also have an emphasis on careers and EDI, with input on careers in the space industry. On the final day will include a community consultation day with UKSA, STFC, and other interested stakeholders like Europlanet.

South East Europe Hub: Terrestrial Analogues for Solar System Studies Conference (€5000)

Co-funding was requested from the Europlanet Society Committee Funding Scheme for an already designed planetary-themed conference to be held in Greece, in the island of Milos, during the summer of 2024. The conference has both scientific and policy aspects, and aims to bring together planetary scientists from all over the world, with an emphasis on students and early career participants from Southeastern Europe, in a location of great relevance and interest for planetary geologic topics – the island of Milos. This region has experienced young volcanism and tectonism (Mars, Pluto), has undergone atmospheric shaping of volcanic deposits, and carving into yardangs (Mars, Titan, Venus, Pluto), and has current hydrothermal and fumarolic activity (Venus, Io, exoplanets). The conference will offer a combination of lectures, science discussions and filed trips, as well as policy and industry related discussions in a dedicated session. Planetary scientists with experience in field geology will interact with those who typically do modeling or laboratory studies, furthering the cross communication of topics and improving the research approach for all participants to lead to a better understanding.

EPEC: Early Career Activities at DPS-EPSC 2023 (€900)

EPEC has organised a programme of events for early career researchers at the joint DPS-EPSC meeting in October 2023 in San Antonio, Texas. The planned activities include a short course on mental health, a social event, mentoring for first-time attendees and the EPEC general assembly. In addition, EPEC will have a booth to help early careers find their way around and inform them about our work.

Find out more about the Committee Funding Scheme.

Expert Exchange: Collaboration Between Brazilian Exoss and Romanian MOROI Networks

Expert Exchange: Collaboration Between Brazilian Exoss and Romanian MOROI Networks.

Europlanet 2024 RI’s Expert Exchange Programme aims to support the planetary community to share expertise and best practice, and to prepare new facilities and services. The programme provides funding for short visits (up to one week). 

Marcelo De Cicco, from INMETRO, Brazil visited Iharka Csillik at the Astronomical Observatory of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, from 1-10 July 2022.

The aim of the visit was to develop code to model grazing meteors, attend the International conference on ‘Theory, Observations and Data Processing in Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space and Planetary Sciences’ and explore collaborations between the Brazilian EXOSS project, Romanian MOROI networks, FRIPON international network and a Hungarian meteor observations project.

This Expert Exchange visit came about through the Europlanet Mentorship programme, as Iharka is supporting Marcelo to develop skills in meteor science dynamics and publishing. The mentor-mentee pair were featured as a case study in a poster on the mentorship programme at the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 (Stonkute et al. 2022).

Read the full report.

Expert Exchange Objectives covered by this visit: Early Career Support, Widening Participation.

Find out more about the Europlanet Expert Exchange Programme.

Next Call For Europlanet Expert Exchange Programme

The final call for the Europlanet 2024 RI Expert Exchange Programme closed on Wednesday 17 January 2024. Visits should take place between 1 February and 15 May 2024.

Welcome to New Chairs of Regional Hubs

Welcome to New Chairs of Regional Hubs

Some of the Europlanet Society Regional Hubs have new Chairs, who were announced at EPSC2022! We look forward to working with them and thank all the outgoing Hub Chairs for their work over the past few years.

Incoming Chair of Southeast Europe Regional Hub

Nick Sergis. Credit: Hellenic Space Center

Dr Nick Sergis is the incoming Chair of the Southeast Regional Hub, taking over from Prof Ioannis Daglis, who has served in the role since 2019. Nick is Chief Executive Officer of the Hellenic Space Center, which coordinates public entities and co-manages national programs in all space sectors in Greece. His research interests include space and planetary physics, magnetospheric data analysis with emphasis on the outer planets and their moons, magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, and solar wind dynamics. He was a member of the Cassini Magnetosphere Imaging Instrument (MIMI) Scientific Team. Between 2006 and 2020 he worked at the Office of Space Research and Technology at the Academy of Athens in collaboration with JHU/APL. Since 2017, he has been an Adjunct Researcher at the National Observatory of Athens.

Incoming Chair of Spain-Portugal Regional Hub

DR. ALEJANDRO CARDESÍN MOINELO is chair of the Spain Portugal Regional Hub.
Alejandro Cardesín Moinelo is the new chair of the Spain Portugal Regional Hub. Credit: ESA.

Alejandro Cardesín Moinelo is a planetary scientist and science operations engineer working for the European Space Agency, specialising in Solar System missions. He is currently focused on Mars exploration as the manager of the Mars Express mission science ground segment, in coordination with ExoMars and other international projects. Since 2017, he has been the coordinator of the Spanish Planetary Science and Solar System Exploration Community, supporting and promoting the collaboration between research and technology institutions and industries in Spain. Alejandro is now taking on the role of Chair of the Spain & Portugal Regional Hub from the inaugural Chair, Miguel López-Valverde.

Incoming Chair of Italy Regional Hub

Stavro Ivanovski, Chair of the Italian Regional Hub and Co-Chair of EPSC SOC
Stavro Ivanovski. Credit: Europlanet/V Southgate

Stavro Ivanovski is a researcher at INAF-Trieste and an adjoint professor at the University of Trieste. His research focuses on small bodies and planetary magnetospheres in the Solar System. Stavro is involved in a number of planetary missions, including LICIACube, Rosetta and BepiColombo, Comet Interceptor, Hera, and Ariel. As a graduated actor with theatre experience, he has a strong commitment to public engagement and outreach. Since 2020, Stavro has acted as the Co-Chair of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) Scientific Organising Committee (SOC). He now takes on the role of Chair of the Italian Regional Hub from Maria Cristina De Sanctis.

The new Hub Chairs were announced during EPSC. You can find out more about the work of the Regional Hubs here.

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2022 awarded to the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ Tactile Exhibition

Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement 2022 awarded to the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ Tactile Exhibition

Europlanet Press Release

The 2022 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement has been awarded to Dr Kosmas Gazeas and the team behind the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ tactile exhibition.

‘Planets In Your Hand’ is an interactive, mobile set of models of planetary surfaces, constructed in square frames, that gives a multisensory impression of the wide variety of surface characteristics and environmental properties of the planets in our Solar System. 

The exhibition, although suitable for people of all ages, has been specifically designed for visually impaired audiences, and has travelled to schools, universities and private institutes and organisations, reaching thousands of visitors to date.

Dr Federica Duras, Chair of the Europlanet Outreach Jury, said: “Imagination and creativity has led to a stunning, original exhibition led by a passionate and committed team. Giving opportunities to ‘touch space’ with your own hands is one of the most effective ways of making science and astronomy accessible and inclusive. Congratulations to the whole team.”

The award was presented during the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 2022 in Granada on behalf of the team to Dimitrios Athanasopoulos, who gave a 20-minute prize lecture. The team will also receive a cash award of 1500 Euros. 

Eugenia Covernton, CEO of Lecturers Without Borders, who nominated the team for the Europlanet Prize, said: “Planets In Your Hand is an outstanding hands-on exhibition that is inclusive for people with visual impairments and is overall a great tool for the public to grasp concepts related to the different compositions of the planets”

Sophia Drakaki and Dimitris Blougouras, Founders of CityLab, a STEM center specialized in activities for children and young people, said: “The team wanted a real hands-on experience that lasts. And yes, they did it! The on-the-spot visitors can see, touch and feel the surface texture and temperature of the planets and ‘travel’ on them, with the assistance of experts in astrophysics and education that can answer the megabytes of questions that the kids generate!”

Evangelia Mavrikaki, professor of the Department of Primary Education at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), said: “The exhibition is portable, providing huge flexibility accessing schools and institutes in remote areas of Greece and all over the world. Science communication activities of such a kind are rare in remote places and away from large towns.”

Dr Gazeas, the team lead, who is a lecturer of observational astrophysics in the Department of Physics of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece), said: “We are deeply honoured to receive the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement for our efforts in science communication and public outreach activities in the frame of the project Planets In Your Hand. The selection of our project by the judges acts like a confirmation to the team for the hard work that has been done since 2017 and especially during the past 3 years.”


Federica Duras, Chair of the Europlanet Outreach Working Group, presenting the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement to Dimitrios Athanasopoulos on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

Dimitrios Athanasopoulos accepted the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

Dimitrios Athanasopoulos giving the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement Lecture on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

Dimitrios Athanasopoulos giving the Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement Lecture on behalf of the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ team. Credit: Europlanet

The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

The ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Mars. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Earth. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Neptune. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

A model from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition representing Mercury. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

Some of the squared models from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition and the planets that they represent. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

Some of the squared models from the ‘Planets In Your Hand’ exhibition. Credits: Kosmas Gazeas

Science Contacts

Kosmas Gazeas
“Planets In Your Hand” team
Department of Physics
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
+30 210 7276892 (office)  /


EPSC2022 Press Office
+44 7756 034243>


About the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) 

The Europlanet Science Congress ( formerly the European Planetary Science Congress, is the annual meeting of the Europlanet Society. With a track record of 16 years, and regularly attracting around 1000 participants, EPSC is the largest planetary science meeting in Europe. It covers the entire range of planetary sciences with an extensive mix of talks, workshops and poster sessions, as well as providing a unique space for networking and exchanges of experiences.

Follow on Twitter via @europlanetmedia and using the hashtag #EPSC2022.

Details of media briefings and recordings can be found at:

All Europlanet media releases can be found at:

About Europlanet

Since 2005, Europlanet ( has provided Europe’s planetary science community with a platform to exchange ideas and personnel, share research tools, data and facilities, define key science goals for the future, and engage stakeholders, policy makers and European citizens with planetary science. 

The Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure (RI) has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 to provide access to state-of-the-art research facilities and a mechanism to coordinate Europe’s planetary science community. 

The Europlanet Society promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community and is open to individual and organisational members. The Europlanet Society is the parent organisation of the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC).

About EANA
The European Astrobiology Network Association (, joins together people interested in the origins of life and the search for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System and beyond. This interdisciplinary domain involves scientists from multiple disciplines such as chemistry, physics, biology, geology, astronomy, and human sciences.  

The Europlanet Media Centre issues media releases on the activities of Europlanet Society, the Europlanet 2024 Research Infrastructure, the Europlanet Science Congress (EPSC) and results from planetary science partner organisations. If you do not wish to receive press releases from the Europlanet Media Centre, please unsubscribe by replying to this message or sending an email to Anita Heward, Europlanet Communications Officer, +44 7756 034243.

Outreach and Public Engagement after Covid Session at EAS 2022

Outreach and Public Engagement after Covid Session at EAS 2022

The impact of Covid-19 led to a dramatic change in the landscape of public engagement, which overnight transformed from “hands on” to entirely virtual delivery. Appreciation of astronomy briefly enjoyed a higher profile, with views of the sky connecting us to the wider universe while confined to our homes. Virtual access has enabled the astronomy community to reach audiences that could not normally attend “face to face” outreach sessions, but it has simultaneously widened the gap for disadvantaged communities without access to the technology needed for online engagement.

At the European Astronomical Society (EAS) 2022 Annual Meeting in Valencia from 27 June – 1 July, the astronomy outreach community took the opportunity to come together and discuss some of these issues.

In particular, participants were asked to consider for public engagement in the years ahead:

  • Is the increase in virtual outreach initiatives “the new normal”, or is “face to face” vital for engaging marginalised communities on the wrong side of the digital divide?
  • What does this mean for collaboration across Europe and further afield? 
  • How has public perception of science changed during the pandemic and what does this mean for the outreach community?

Over a lunch session on Monday 27 June attended by around 60 participants, we heard from a number of speakers and then had an open discussion of our experiences over the past two and a half years. While the general consensus in the room was that face-to-face interaction is very important for outreach and public engagement and that the return to in-person events is very positive, the impact of Covid remains an ongoing issue – not least in that several of the scheduled speakers were unfortunately unable to take part in the session due to positive tests. The benefits of hybrid meetings for sustainability and inclusion were also a topic of much discussion at EAS 2022 in the wider context of conferences and events.

If you missed the session, some of the presentations and virtual posters are provided here with kind permission of the authors:

Astro-lògos: stories of the history of the Universe. A science-art project inspired by Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, Claudia Mignone

Increasing the science outreach in Romania during the pandemic, Sandor Kruk

Communicating science worldwide with the International Day of LightGeethu Paulose

AstroEDU, IAU open-access platform for peer-reviewed Educational ActivitiesLivia Giacomini

Inspiring the Next Generation of Space and Planetary Scientists: The 2022 EXPLORE Junior Lunar Data ChallengeDaniel Le Corre

Planets In A Room and how hands-on activities has been forced to switch to onlineFederica Duras

Bringing the night sky to Italian living rooms via livestream eventsClaudia Mignone

EPEC Profiles – Dimitrios Athanasopoulos

EPEC Profiles – Dimitrios Athanasopoulos

In this series from the EPEC Communication Working Group, we meet members of the Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) community and find out more about their experiences and aspirations.

Dimitrios Athanasopoulos is a Ph.D. candidate at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) in Greece. His research focuses on the most ancient asteroid families that have been discovered. He is performing observations to reveal the asteroids’ spin state.

From a young age, I was particularly interested in the Natural Sciences and especially in Astrophysics and Planetary Science. With the ambition to become a researcher, I set a goal to study at the Department of Physics of NKUA. The first step was taken and the journey to knowledge and research began.

During my undergraduate studies, I took part in a European student competition, where I came up with an alternative scenario of Lunar colonization that uses Lunar morphology, namely lunar pits, to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation. As part of this work, I developed code and performed original computational simulations calculating the radiation levels in these structures. Thanks to my performance, I was given the opportunity to do a 6-month internship at the European Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, of the European Space Agency (ESA). There, I was a member of the Spaceship EAC team, and my work was included radiation shielding simulations for the Moon Village scenario.

In the summer of 2018, I participated in the Alpbach Summer School with the theme “Sample return from small solar system bodies”, where European students are invited to prepare a space mission proposal divided into groups. My group’s proposal was to return a sample from a type D type asteroid in order to find the relationship between asteroids and comets. Our proposal was distinguished with two awards. 

After the Summer School, asteroids were included in my research interests. Hence, I enrolled in the Master in Astrophysics program at my university, and I worked on the photometric observations of the most ancient asteroids. Now, as a Ph.D. candidate, I want to delve into this field and answer research questions that arise about the oldest asteroid families and the information they give us about the early stages of our Solar System. 

In the last years, I am working as a high-school teacher and in the last semester, I was working as Graduate Teaching Assistant at my University, performing lab courses for undergraduate students. Apart from teaching, I also like science communication. As an active member of the “Planets In Your Hand” team (awarded by Europlanet Funding Scheme 2017), I have conducted many outreach activities. I believe that public outreach is the duty of the scientific community so knowledge to be spread in the wider community and everyone can benefit.

Lastly, an international observing campaign, called “Ancient Asteroids”, supports my Ph.D. and was initiated willing to establish a node between professional and amateur astronomers, a Pro-Am collaboration for the characterization of the oldest asteroid families.

Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in the discovery.

The EuroPlanet Early Career (EPEC) network lays a solid foundation for tomorrow’s scientific community in Planetary Science. I am very happy to be part of this multidisciplinary team.


More information about Dimitrios Athanasopoulos:



Dimitrios Athanasopoulos. Image credit: Kosmas Gazeas

If you are an Early Career member of the Europlanet Society and would like to be featured in an EPEC Profile, find out more about how to submit your profile.

See all the EPEC Profiles.

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Regional Hubs at EPSC2021

Let us show you how the Europlanet Society and its regional hubs can serve you. We will present you the benefits of joining the hubs and will gladly hear about your needs.

12:45 Welcome (Séverine Robert)

12:50 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Miguel Lopez Valverde)

12:55 Funded project: Mars Atlas (Henrik Hargitai)

13:05 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Jonathan Merrison)

13:10 Funded project: Storytelling workshop (Arianna Piccialli)

13:20 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Nicholas Achilleos)

13:25 Collaborative framework: Europlanet Telescope Network (Manuel Scherf)

13:35 Why am I a member of the EPS? (Lena Noack)

13:40 General discussion: What do you want the EPS to do for you? (All Panelists)

14:10 Wrap up (Séverine Robert)

14:15 End of meeting


The Europlanet Society Regional Hubs support the development of planetary science at a national and regional level, particularly in countries and areas that are currently under-represented within the community.

Our Hub Committees organise networking events and workshops to support the research community, as well as to build links with amateur astronomers, industrial partners, policymakers, educators, the media and the wider public. Europlanet Society members are welcome to participate in the activities of one or more Hubs.

The 10 Regional Hubs established to date are:

“Planets In Your Hand” – in lockdown but still active in outreach

“Planets In Your Hand” – in lockdown but still active in outreach

This guest post is from the “Planets in Your Hand” project, which received funding from Europlanet 2020 RI through the Europlanet Outreach Funding Scheme 2017.

The Planets In Your Hand (PIYH) team at the University of Athens in Greece stays continuously in touch with the public through its social networks. On an almost daily basis, the most interesting science news and discoveries related to the field of Planetary Science and exploration are posted, while the team interacts with the readers via their comments and questions. The team has also remained active during the entire lockdown period, by participating in online outreach events and conferences.

The “Planets In Your Hand” team participated in the EPSC 2020 Conference by presenting a poster entitled: “Planets In Your Hand: The social impact of a tactile experience” on September 21st, 2020. In the context of “EPSC 2020 goes live for schools” and in order to continue the science communication with the general public despite the difficulties, the scientific coordinator of the PIYH program, Dr. Kosmas Gazeas, gave a live talk in collaboration with the Lecturers Without Borders (LeWiBo). This talk, reaching schools all over the world, was entitled: “A walk on the Moon”. An abundance of classrooms attended the activity with many students participating actively and asking questions, resulting in an overall rating of 9.6/10 among the talks from all viewers and participants. 

During World Space Week 2020 (WSW 2020)“Planets In Your Hand” team celebrated the contribution of science and space exploration to humanity. Following all safety procedures and taking under consideration the special circumstances and national restrictions, the team celebrated this year in an alternative way. Every day and throughout the week, an image of the planets and the moons of our Solar System was posted on social media and disseminated throughout the public. Every image was accompanied by a caption and a text with interesting information about the depicted planetary object and its history of exploration. These astronomical images were taken by the “Planets In Your Hand” team members during WSW 2020 from the University of Athens Observatory (UOAO). The audience showed their enthusiasm by posting their comments online. 

Enhancing the “Planets In Your Hand” outreach impact, during the last day of WSW2020 festivities, an online public talk was given by Dr. Kosmas Gazeas, in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomical Association of Sparta “Dioskouroi”. The title of the talk was: “Comets: The visitors of our Solar System” and it was broadcast live from the Astronomical Union’s YouTube channel:

If you would like to find out more about “Planets in your Hand” and the group’s activities, follow them on Facebook

Inspiring stories – ExoWorld Spies

Inspiring Stories – ExoWorld Spies

An exoplanet project as a vehicle for public outreach!

In the second of our Early Career Inspiring Outreach Stories, EPEC Outreach Co-chair Anastasia Kokori explains how the public can become ExoWorld Spies and contribute to missions exploring worlds orbiting other stars.

Introduction: Exoplanet research today

To date, more than 3.900 exoplanets have been discovered. Exoplanets are planets orbiting other star, outside our Solar System. However, we know very little about them. For example: What are they made of? How were they formed? Could they host life? Future space missions such as NASA’s JWST and ESA’s ARIEL will try to answer to these questions.

The ExoWorlds Spies project

To help these space missions and make them more efficient, we need to know when exactly these planets pass in front of their stars. In our project “ExoWolrds Spies”, we use small and medium scale telescopes to “spy on” already known exoplanets for long periods of time. In this way, we can track their paths around their stars precisely and let the spacecrafts know when exactly to observe them. The public can become “ExoWorlds Spies” by obtaining or analysing observations and contribute to real astronomical research.

What is the methodology we use?

After obtaining the data with the telescopes we analyse them with computer software in order to measure the light coming from the star. As the planet passes in front of the star, the star is becoming dimmer. The drop of the light will give us information about the planet: its size, its orbit and its transit timing.

Exoplanet research as a collaborative effort!

This research involves a variety of audiences including professionals and amateur astronomers who are observing target stars with their telescopes. We believe that science can be done by everyone and science is for everyone and thus, volunteers from the public can also become participants. In the near future we aim to create more interactive tools so everyone can access them and get directly involved in real exoplanet research! You can find more information here

Public outreach

The project is a great tool for public outreach. For the past three years our team has been organising presentations both for the public and school students in Greece to spread the science behind exoplanets and planetary science. A dedicated website has been created where we upload articles and publish posts related to new observations of targets and other exoplanet articles.


We have been running a social media page on Facebook where our followers get information both on the ExoWorlds Spies project and planetary science news. A variety of audiences have already been engaged through the project and the feedback so far is very positive. We wish to spread the word in other communities around Europe so more people can learn about exoplanets. If you would like to get involved, e-mail us at:
You can visit our website for more information or follow us on Facebook and get updated on the exciting field of exoplanets!

Do you like this story and want more? Browse our archive of Inspiring Stories and get inspired!