Advocating support for hands-on telescope training

16 July 2019

The Astro2020 Decadal Survey is now in full swing, with white paper submissions having gone in for scientific and state of the profession topics. We have written and submitted a “State of the Profession Consideration” paper arguing for the importance of hands-on training at telescopes for junior members of the research community. In “The Importance of Telescope Training in Data Interpretation” (Whelan+) we argue that some observing experience is crucial for researchers to interpret data accurately and to its maximal potential. This is particularly important as astronomy moves increasing towards a survey / data science model for studying the Universe. The white paper makes some general suggestions to allocate funding for on-site observing trips for junior researchers as well as funding support for both college/university observatories and small to mid-scale public facilities. Together these suggestions will work towards ensuring the next generation of astronomers have first-hand experience of the data collection process, providing context and base-knowledge for assessment and interpretation of survey data.