A day in the life of an astronomy ambassador

Karlie Noon - astronomy ambassador
Image: Rhett Wyman/SMH

Karlie Noon, an astronomy ambassador for The Sydney Observatory, shares her STEM journey with us, including what an average day in her role looks like!

My STEM journey was very non-linear. I ended up leaving school quite early and focused more on homeschooling, TAFE, and independent learning. When I eventually got to uni, I jumped into a combined Bachelor of Maths, Bachelor of Science degree, which I completed in 2016, becoming the first Aboriginal woman to do so. 

I then went on to do a Masters in astrophysics, which I completed in 2019. Researching the Milky Way galaxy was incredible, and I hope to do a PhD someday soon. It would be an extraordinary privilege to continue investigating the universe and sharing my knowledge going into the future. 

My average day looks a little something like: 

7am: live radio talking about sky matters and recent astronomical news.

9am: meetings for various projects happening, it could be with publishers, producers, media, schools, government, universities, organisations….there’s a lot going on.

1pm: school talks with students all across Australia.

3pm: writing! Those books/articles don’t write themselves! And of course the occasional Tweet and Insta post to mix it up a bit and connect with people. 

Karlie Noon - astronomy ambassador

The coolest place I’ve worked is Central Australia on Arrernte country to stand in the 142 million-year-old impact crater, Tnorala. Hearing its traditional story was one of the most incredible experiences in my life. I spent hours lying in the middle of the crater, looking up at the astonishing sky. 

I am hugely passionate about getting more women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into science and maths. I think Mob are naturally born scientists, and I think we would all benefit from having more Indigenous values embedded within these fields.

Indigenous peoples and cultures view the world very differently to non-Indigenous cultures. Different values and views need to be incorporated into every aspect of society, especially now. The world, particularly the Western world, needs to start embracing sustainable practices and Indigenous people are really clever at that!

– as told to Cassie Steel

RELATED: Indigenous issue out now!

Karlie’s study and career pathway to becoming an astronomy ambassador

  • Bachelor of Maths, Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle
  • Masters of Astronomy and Astrophysics (advanced), Australian National University
  • Presenter and assistant program manager, Science Maths and Real Technologies, University of Newcastle
  • Program Manager, Indigenous STEM Awards, CSIRO
  • Indigenous Heritage Officer, Department of the Environment
  • Astronomy Ambassador, The Sydney Observatory

Follow Karlie’s STEM adventures: @karlie_moon_ on Twitter and @karlienoon on Instagram.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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