About Us

Astronomy on Tap was formed in New York City in 2013 by Meg Schwamb and Emily Rice. Previously, Meg had organized two Astronomy Uncorked events at a wine bar in New Haven, CT while she was a postdoctoral researcher at Yale, and Emily was looking for an excuse to socialize with other astronomers as faculty on the tenure-track. After the first (immensely successful, if we do say so ourselves) Astronomy on Tap event at the Way Station in Brooklyn on April 9, 2013, Meg, Emily, and others coordinated several more events in NYC, including the first one in uptown Manhattan and, still somewhat unbelievably, Astronomy on Deck in the Space Shuttle Pavilion at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (pinch us!).

As quickly as the events gained popularity in NYC, they also spread to other locations! You see, the astronomy field fosters a wonderfully international scientific community, and astronomers tend to travel widely for research, conferences, collaborations, and career development. 

The idea for Astronomy on Tap gained traction quickly – folks from all over were interested to hear about space and learn about it in the cozy ambience of their local pub. In 2013, AoT Columbus hosted two events at the Brother’s Drake Meadery & Bar, thanks to event organizer Demitri Muna. In January 2014, the three early founders presented a poster at AAS 223 in Washington, D.C. Later in 2014, Meg collaborated with astronomers from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago to run a free science talk night. Astronomy on Tap continued planting its roots as it appeared in other countries including Chile, Canada, and Taipei (where Meg moved for another research position). By the end of 2014, AoT events had expanded to nine cities and four countries across three continents.

Over the subsequent years, Astronomy on Tap made efforts to include even more variety in the types of events, guests, and educational activities for participants to enjoy. In Brooklyn, we screened all 13 episodes of COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey at Videology; for Women’s History Month, we partnered with Infinite Variety Productions to present an immersive theatrical performance of the play Insignificant to honor the stories of the first female astronomers. We hosted movie nights for APOLLO 13 and Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (Austin, Texas) with guest astrophysicist Dr. Rachael Livermore, who brought a fun and snarky twist by calling out the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ science behind our favorite interstellar flicks. As our event outreach grew, gatherings attracted diverse audiences in which French, German, Spanish, and Mandarin were predominantly spoken. Our number of locations and events per month steadily increased each month, until…March 2020.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Astronomy on Tap adapted by hosting remote sessions on platforms such as Zoom and YouTube Live. (With all that social distancing, you could say we were really ‘spaced’ out!) Celestial wordplay aside, the online sessions were a popular success for Astronomy on Tap. Cities across Europe including Gothenburg, Koln, Cambridge, Leiden, and Oslo, in addition to locations in the United States such as The Triangle (Durham, NC), Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Antonio, helped bring the vast universe right to people’s home screens. To celebrate our 7th Orbit-versary in 2020 (seven years after the first AoT event in NYC), we broadcasted the 7 hours for 7 orbits livestream that involved the international teamwork of many scientists from around the globe. One of our favorite highlights from St. Louis AoT was a live Q/A panel with NASA astronaut Col. Dr. Robert L. Behnken in June 2021. We are so thankful to the dedicated satellite locations and our ‘stellar’ audience community (pun intended) for keeping the spirit of Astronomy on Tap alive despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic. It is immensely exciting for our events to be back in-person again – we missed your faces!

Stay tuned for upcoming events in your local area by checking out our Events Page or join our newsletter for updates on when Astronomy on Tap appears next in your area. If you are interested in launching a satellite location (be forewarned, we require 100% commitment to the space puns), please get in touch via our eponymous Gmail address or visit our Request Satellite page for more information.

Until then, See You Space Cowboy….

Inspired by the Pub Astronomy podcast, our original logo was created  by the multi-talented planetary astronomer Dr. Alex Parker. For our 10th anniversary, Sally Starrider, aka Em Levine, updated our logo with JWST images.