We had the good fortune of connecting with Phil Plait and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Phil, what do you attribute your success to?
When it comes to my own science communication, I think there are two “most important factors”. One is passion. When I write, I try to let my fascination, my joy, my interest in the topic shine through. Professional research journal writing is dry, and many times a lot of writing for the public about science can be that way as well. I never ascribed to that, and instead let my own emotions flow. That resonates with people, and draws them in.

The other is expertise. I have a PhD and did professional astronomy work for some years, and that acts like foot in the door for many venues, an earned legitimacy.

But the funny thing is, the expertise isn’t really necessary. If you like science, talk about it! Make a video, post on TikTok or Instagram. You don’t need the degree to do that. You should absolutely check your sources and make sure what you’re saying is *right*, but for most cases that’s not too difficult. And if you let you own passion shine, it’ll attract attention.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Not too many professional astronomers were doing science communication when I started, though now that’s very much no longer true. But when I started the web was in its infancy, and being there at the right time was a massive boost. That’s been true over and again, jumping on new social media platforms as they started to grow, enlarging my footprint that way. It’s harder now in many ways because the field is so diluted; which platforms will grow, which will fail? Ironically, the entry into this is so much easier now, but the impact of your voice is harder to make. But what I’ve found is that success, at least in one part, is putting in the work and being ready for an opportunity when it arises. There’s far more to it, of course, but if an opportunity pops up and you’re not ready, then you lose the chance. The flip side of that is turning down an opportunity if it isn’t right or you know you’re not ready; I’ve passed on a few I knew I’d bomb at, wasting my time and theirs. The real issue, and one I have no answer for, is knowing how to know which is which.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are too many people to note who, along the way, gave me a push or nudge or turned me in the right direction. But astronomer Steve Maran was in the right place at the right time for that initial push. Hank Green gave me a shot to make Crash Course Astronomy, and the Science and Entertainment Exchange was a big factor in my being able to do some science consulting work for movies and TV shows. Andrew Hyde invited me to come give a TEDxBoulder talk, and that wound up being a big break. Just to name a few. We are all the accumulation of all our encounters, and I’ve been doing this a while, so my list is long. My thanks to everyone who added to my momentum!

Website: https://about.me/philplait

Instagram: https://instagram.com/thebadastronomer

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/philip-plait-663028125/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/BadAstronomer

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC45SDrjKlPSY0bTvH6F7TOA

Image Credits
Phil Plait Phil Plait

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