The IAU-RAS-AAS Sensitive Sites Committee Blog

Welcome to the Cultural Skies Blog! This blog is a way of sharing information about the IAU-RAS-AAS Sensitive Sites working group along with out goals and our achievements. For 2022, I am organising our monthly blogs. We will have guest editors drawn from our working group tell us about themselves, their research and their roles in the working group. In this first blog, I share the goals that we established for the group and our progress towards them.

Conference Presentations

One of our goals is to educate our academic communities about sensitive sites around the world where astronomy facilities such as observatories are on or are being built on Indigenous land with varying forms of consent. Most of our working group members have degrees in astronomy and/or astrophysics, this is reflective of the two founding organisations, IAU & RAS, being astronomy societies. Thus, we targeted doing introductory presentations at astronomy conferences and workshops exploring sensitive sites issues.

National Astronomy Meeting 2021OGRE Workshop
Communicating Astronomy to the Public 2021Introduction
Société Européene Pour L’Astronomie Dans La Culture (SEAC) 2021Introduction
American Astronomical Society January 2022OGRE Workshop – CANCELLED

Shared Bibliography

Our Shared Zotero Bibliography

Tapping into the expertise of the group members, we needed a way to share knowledge in the form of articles that members had written and other articles that explore sensitive sites issues in detail reflecting multiple points of view. We set up a shared bibliography on Zotero for our purposes. Zotero is free open source software that is accessible worldwide. We try to include links to open access articles. Please contact us if you want access to our bibliography. If you use resources in our bibliography please credit us in your acknowledgements: “Thanks go to the IAU/RAS/AAS Sensitive Sites Working Group for the free use of their Bibliography.”

Best Practices Guide

Our long term goal is to create resources at can be used to build good relations between our scientific community and local/Indigenous communities. Other big facilities have encountered similar issues with local and Indigenous peoples, but have successfully forged mutually beneficial relationships that have strengthened over time. We will learn from them and present their methods to our communities in the form of a best practice guide.


Through our participation in conferences we have written articles for their proceedings. In 2022, these introductory articles will appear in the CAP and SEAC proceedings.


This Blog is designed to keep the public abreast of our activities and our upcoming events.


Do you have recommended readings? Do you have suggestions for more activities for our working group? Please leave questions and comments below.

If you are interested in volunteering to be part of our working group reach out to Steve Gullberg at Oklahoma University.

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