Austin, TX USA
Dawn Davies is an amateur astronomer, science communicator, educator, and lecturer with a passion in making astronomy accessible to all.
A native of San Francisco, California, Dawn’s backyard was the museums of the area; the Exploratorium, California Academy of Science and Lawrence Hall of Science. At a young age she was a frequent attendee at star parties hosted by the Mount Tamalpais Interpretive Association and the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers. By high school Dawn was president of her campus’s astronomy club, making monthly visits to elementary schools to talk on the fundamentals of space science.
A degree in environmental and ecological design, and a lengthy career in event management, took front stage to Dawn’s astronomical aspirations. However, upon relocating to Austin, Texas in 2006 and changing careers, her newly found free time allowed her to seek out the Austin Astronomical Society (AAS), where she has been an active member for over a decade. Within six months of becoming a member of AAS, Dawn was voted to the society’s executive board where she held positions including Outreach Chair, Vice President, and President. Her current role is as AAS’s Astronomical League Correspondent.
In 2016 Dawn founded Earthbound Astronomer, an online presence featuring resources for amateur astronomers, educators, and anyone who checks the box of space enthusiast. Her current efforts focus on providing open source documents and activities, as well as Texas State Park assessments for use by observational astronomers seeking darker skies.
After two years on the AAS board, Dawn stepped into the role of Outreach Chair where she continued the work of executing monthly public star parties at the society’s observatory site and supported requests from local schools, libraries, and individual organizations. She coordinated members of AAS and partnered with the University of Texas at Austin - Astronomy Department, in 2012 to provide an opportunity to view the Transit of Venus. An unexpected and unprecedented 2,000 plus individuals attended. In 2013 Dawn was presented the Master Outreach Award by the Astronomical League. During the same year she teamed up and has maintained a partnership with the River Hills Neighborhood Association, an IDA awarded Dark Sky Development of Distinction, to aid in the protection of their night skies which are still under threat of corporate developers.
Following the success of her Texas State Park Project, Dawn initiated phase II of her assessment program, opening negotiations between the Austin Astronomical Society and Inks Lake State Park and Pedernales Falls State Park to revitalize their star parties and astronomy programming. In 2020, AAS will have hosted regular monthly star parties at each of these locations for the past two years and will have a physical presence at Pedernales Falls State Park with a roll-out observatory.
Awards and Recognition
Dawn has had the pleasure of being a guest lecturer at the Texas Star Party, having spoken on the history of Citizen Science and its role today in Astronomical research. She has been a two-time presenter at Austin’s Astronomy on Tap. Last summer Dawn was a featured speaker at the Astronomical League Conference educating on archaeoastronomical sites and the comparative constellation myths across multiple ancient and modern cultures.
- Volunteer Advocate - International Dark Sky Association (IDA)
- Dark Skies Ambassador - International Astronomical Union
- Astronomy Mentor & Educator - Girl Scouts of Central Texas
- Astronomical League Correspondent - Austin Astronomical Society
- Member - Astronomers Without Borders. Astronomical Society of the Pacific, International Dark Sky Association (IDA), Texas Chapter of the IDA
Activities and Events
In 2018 Dawn was selected as the amateur astronomer assigned to the Girl Scouts of Central Texas Astronomy Club where she is an advisor and mentor for the program and its members. In fall of 2019 she began co-leading badge workshops teaching curriculum for the newly launched Girl Scouts Space Science Badge Program.
In the winter, Dawn will be co-teaching University of Texas at Austin Informal Classes in Astronomy. She is currently a student at Austin Community College working on her certificate in their American Sign Language Interpreter Program. Her focus is to promote ASTRONOMY FOR ALL, a platform for accessibility and inclusivity in the astronomical community. Dawn’s goal is to provide resources and opportunities to individuals and groups; regardless of language or ability.