Co-authors: Andrew P. Carlin, Miguel Gomes
There is a component of wonder well known to practitioners in astronomy education and outreach activities. Emotions such as awe and surprise play an important role in engaging audiences, yet there exists no systematic study of this phenomenon in the astronomy education literature. In this paper we analyse moments where these emotions are expressed and displayed – what we call “Awe Moments” – in diurnal and night sky observations with telescopes. Using an interactional perspective, rooted in Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA), we analyzed 10 hours of video and audio recordings of these observations with telescope, collected in different events and institutions in Portugal. Through the fine-grained study of these recordings and corresponding transcriptions we describe and discuss how these emotions are produced interactionally by guides/astronomers and public - what are their characteristics and role? how are they managed? In our data these interactions are recurrent. These Awe Moments happen in situ, in the details of the interactions taking place. The data show, among other things, guides and public validating, enhancing and prolonging these moments through interaction. Moreover, the sharing of these emotions gives space for connection and creates common ground between guides/astronomers and public. The identification and description of such interactions and the discussion of their importance in educational activities contributes to the literature on emotions in educational settings, and also to the training of guides and the evaluation of astronomy educational events.