Costellazione Manga: explaining astronomy using Japanese comics and animation
Journal article, 2018
Comics and animation are intensely engaging and can be successfully used to communicate science to the public. They appear to stimulate many aspects of the learning process and can help with the development of links between ideas. Given these pedagogical premises, we conducted a project called Costellazione Manga, in which we considered astronomical concepts present in several manga and anime (Japanese comics and animations) and highlighted the physics behind them. These references to astronomy allowed us to introduce interesting topics of modern astrophysics and communicate astronomy-related concepts to a large spectrum of people. In this paper, we describe the methodology and techniques that we developed and discuss the results of our project. Depending on the comic or anime considered, we can introducegeneral topics such as the difference between stars, planets and galaxies or ideas such as the possibility of nding life onother planets, the latest discoveries of Earth-like planets orbiting other stars or the detection of complex organic molecules in the interstellar space. When presenting the night sky and the shapes of constellations, we can also describe how the same stars are perceived and grouped by different cultures. The project outcomes indicate that Costellazione Manga is a powerful tool to popularise astronomy and stimulate important aspects of learning development, such as curiosity and critical thinking. We show through our experience that Costellazione Manga has attracted a broader and more diverse public than traditional planetarium activities and astronomy lectures.