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December 3-5

Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement

ASP2020: A Virtual Conference

ASP2020: A Virtual Conference
Preliminary Schedule

Click here for the Schedule-at-a-Glance
A Transcultural Interpretation of the Sky in Mesoamerica
In November 2019, a group of astronomers, Maya spiritual guides (aj'q'ijab'), archaeologists, and physicists met in Guatemala and Honduras for the first time to discuss the different interpretations of the sky, both past and present. This event, named the First Mesoamerican Congress of Cultural Astronomy, created an open space for dialogue and exchange of ideas under the frame of transcultural knowledge construction. Consequently, for three weeks, the organizers, presenters and a wide variety of participants experienced very intense and pleasant learning moments, where everybody learned from each other about their own conceptions of celestial phenomena.

In this presentation, we will summarize the main conclusions and experiences derived from the event, which we believe represents an important step in the development of Cultural Astronomy in Mesoamerica. The Congress provided opportunities for participants to learn from each other, from the Maya ancestral sites, and from the landscape through experiences that included authentic observations of the sky. The main takeaway is that different, and sometimes labeled as "opposed" worldviews, converged with integrity in a model of dialogue and knowledge exchange that is worth replicating not only in the Mesoamerican region, but in other parts of the world. Participants included not only experts in Maya cosmology, Western astronomy, and Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy and cosmology, but we also had the opportunity to learn from other cultures from countries like Peru, New Zealand, India, Iran, and the United States.

In addition, this meeting included a series of activities directed to support the conservation of dark skies as a world heritage, local community engagement, and the development of astronomical tourism as a sustainable form of disseminating all aspects of Mesoamerican astronomy in ways that respect and take into account the cultural knowledge of the original peoples of the land.
Conference Strand: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Social Justice