AstroAnimation: Bridging Two Cultures in the Post-Truth World

Dr. Laurence Arcadias, Maryland Institute College of Art and NASA GSFC & Dr. Robin Corbet University of Maryland, Baltimore County and NASA GSFC

Astronomy is widely popular and provokes a sense of wonder. It addresses profound questions such as: who are we, how did we get here? When astronomy joins with art, it becomes a platform to explore ideas with artistic/scientific awareness which is crucial to understand our physical world. In contrast, many decisions are being made at a governmental/societal level involving scientific issues which are based on incorrect or biased information, including so-called "fake news". How, as educators, do we promote a world view based on objective facts rather than appeals to emotion? Against this backdrop, we are teaching an astroanimation class at MICA that brings together animation students and NASA scientists in collaborative teams. Unlike the direct visualizations typically produced at NASA, we use poetic metaphors and other approaches which can move an audience in different ways. Our goals include bringing scientific education to artists, encouraging scientists to interact with artists, and share their research with a broader audience. The animations are available on the internet (astroanimation.org) and are being shown at museums, scientific conferences, STEAM festivals, in classrooms, and at science fiction conventions.