Science images can capture attention and pique curiosity in a way words alone can’t

Read the full story in The Conversation.

Were you recently gobsmacked when you saw the very first image of a black hole? I know I was.

Did I understand what I was seeing? Not exactly. I certainly needed an explanation, or two. But first and foremost, I stopped to look, as I bet many others did, too … and then, I began to ask questions.

Pictures like this of the universe are amazing and mysterious and spark curiosity. I am convinced that part of the keen interest in all things astronomical has to do with the images scientists share – like the black hole, and so many other Hubble telescope images, for example. Those popular images are welcoming and help make the science accessible.

I contend people are less afraid to ask questions when they see images. Most have taken pictures and can even speak a photographic “language.” You can take notice of color, for example, and wonder if it suggests meaning – why is that black hole orange? I bet you know how to ask questions about a photograph.

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