Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing

In a world filled with hustle and bustle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of modern life. Our daily routines often leave little room for introspection and self-care. But what if we told you that the cosmos could hold the key to unlocking inner peace and enhancing your mental wellbeing? Enter the “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” workshop! Coorganized with the International Astronomical Union, the Department of Science & Innovation of the Republic of South Africa and the NRF – South African Astronomical Observatory.

A Universe of Benefits for Your Mind

Mental wellbeing is a hot topic, and for good reason. In today’s fast-paced world, stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges are on the rise. The “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” workshop offers a unique perspective on managing and improving mental health.

Why Astronomy?

The project titled “Astronomy for Mental Health” aims to explore the ways in which astronomy can serve as a positive influence on the mental well-being of all people. The project not only focuses on the intersection between mental health and development but also capitalizes on astronomy’s ability to inspire and facilitate interdisciplinary efforts to address this pressing issue.

While the use of astronomy for mental health support is not conventional, there is growing evidence that nature-based interventions can have a beneficial impact on mental well-being. Previous research has indicated that nature-based activities like horticulture and gardening can lead to improved emotional states, better interpersonal relationships, increased physical activity, and a stronger sense of community involvement. These findings are consistent with Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory (ART), suggesting that nature can offer a meaningful distraction from life’s stressors.

Whether experienced directly or through simulations like potted plants and visual media, nature has been shown to rejuvenate mental energy, uplift mood, and provide a sanctuary for renewed focus. Experiencing awe in nature, a state often induced by astronomical phenomena, has been linked to positive emotional effects, ethical decision-making, and increased prosocial behaviour.

Although extensive research exists on the benefits of nature exposure, limited studies have specifically investigated astronomy’s role in improving mental health. Initial interventions have revealed that activities such as stargazing can positively affect mental well-being and empower communities grappling with psychological challenges.

What to Expect


The Untapped Potential of Astronomy in Mental Health

  • Explanation of the flagship theme “Astronomy for Mental Health.”
  • Presenting evidence and theories supporting astronomy’s role in mental well-being (e.g., Attention Restoration Theory).

Changing Perspectives Through Astronomy

  • How astronomy can shift our perspective about life and stressors.
  • The concept of “cosmic perspective” and its potential mental health benefits.

Practical Activities and Tools

  • Introduction to astronomical interventions and tools for mental well-being.
  • Brief demonstration or examples (e.g., virtual stargazing, astronomy-based meditation techniques).

Who Should Attend?

This workshop is suitable for everyone, regardless of your level of expertise in astronomy or your familiarity with mental health concepts. Whether you’re a seasoned stargazer, a budding astronomer, or simply looking for new ways to improve your mental wellbeing, “Astronomy as a Tool for Mental Wellbeing” has something to offer.

Date and Venue

The workshop is going to be an online workshop, hosted on Zoom, on the 4th of November.


Interview with Alexia Beale (jIAPS Editor-in-Chief)

The current jIAPS Editor-in-Chief has been interviewing IAPS EC members. Now it is the time for two Editor-in-Chiefs to interview each other. After the interview with Zlatan Vasović, last year’s  jIAPS Editor-in-Chief, the tables have turned. Today Zlatan is interviewing  Alexia Beale, our current Editor-in-Chief.

 jIAPS is currently looking for next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Could it be you? Email us at for more information on how to apply.

As a PhD student, what makes you interested in IAPS?

There are two answers – official and unofficial.

Official: IAPS is amazing and you get the chance to meet other physics students from all over the world. 

Unofficial: I should have joined IAPS as an undergrad, but I didn’t until final year. For a while, I was part of the IAPS Discord server without knowing anyone. You need to message people and get actively involved to get the most out of IAPS. 

What is your field of research?

I’m studying Soft Matter Physics. My research project is on Colloidal Gelation Inside Porous Structures – this is a similar process to how they manufacture rubber gloves. One of the aims of my research is trying to coat the inside of channels with a gel layer without plugging the channel.

My work overlaps with chemistry and biology, and you get to meet people from a variety of academic backgrounds. For those of you who don’t know, Soft Matter includes anything from ice cream and jelly, to polymers. My research is experimental, as I image samples using fluorescent microscopy, perform X-ray CT scans and use coagulant dipping to create gels. I’m really enjoying being part of a research group at the University of Surrey and learning more about colloidal gels. 

You’ve been quite active as the Editor-in-Chief. How do you manage your time between IAPS, studies, and other activities?

I probably don’t manage it completely, but I try to schedule my time properly. I just plan a part of each day for what I need to do, for different activities.

Of all the things you’ve done in IAPS, what is the most special to you?

Starting the monthly Photo Contest on Discord. It’s really nice to see people posting photos every month and getting prizes.

Who have been your inspirations in your IAPS work?

Jim Grozier has provided a main source of  inspiration [he is the former IAPS Archivist and author of “Made in Hungary”, a seminal work on the first 25 years of IAPS]. I actually got to meet him in person last November at the IOP Fuse event which was held in conjunction with IAPS4Materials in London. His enthusiasm and his writing have definitely inspired me.

Another inspiration is James Kneller. I’m doing what he used to be doing in the UK – going around to the events and telling people how great IAPS is.

What does it take to become an “Editor-in-Chief”?

You have to write a CV and a cover letter, and send them to the IAPS EC email (… and if you’re lucky, win at the annual general meeting (AGM).

Suppose I am a curious student who wants to join the jIAPS Staff. How can I do that?

There are many ways to join. Either email us at or message anyone in jIAPS on the IAPS Discord or any other social media (you will notice us, we are posting a lot). We’re quite open to new people, so we’re waiting for you to join us!

Why should anyone get involved in IAPS? What would be your advice to them?

IAPS is a fantastic community. Joining IAPS is an amazing opportunity – there is so much to get involved with, from attending IAPS events in person, to chatting to people on the IAPS Discord. I recommend joining in the conversation on Discord and maybe even messaging random people on there – you can make friends really easily. 

You’ve also been digging through the history of IAPS. What is the most interesting thing you’ve found?

I was very fortunate to receive some old copies of jIAPS from Jim Grozier. I have been enjoying reading through them and learning more about past IAPS ECs and the events they organised. One category title I came across in an old jIAPS was ‘Minerva’s Miscellany’ – I’d like to use it somewhere for jIAPS but haven’t found a use for it yet.

If you want to learn more about the History of IAPS, “Made in Hungary” is a great place to start – you may even find out what Serbians get up to in the early mornings when they organise ICPS.

When you don’t do your work, what do you like to do the most?

Playing the piano and viola – I play in several different orchestras.

Overall, have you enjoyed leading the journal of IAPS in the past year?

Yes. (There is no other allowed answer, is there?)  It is a great experience and very different from the day-to-day PhD research. There are lots of different tasks to be involved with – organising the Article and Creative Contests, receiving articles for jIAPS, creating social media posts…

Is your editorial for the jIAPS 2023 edition ready? (And why not?)

In fact, I wrote it right after I was elected (on August 8, 2022). Reading it now, a lot of predictions turned out not to be true… But it seems the editorial will be really finished at the end of creating the journal, as is the tradition.

Alexia has left the meeting in hopes of finishing her editorial on time. We wish her the best of luck!

Events IAPS 2022-2023 Uncategorized

The Countdown to PLANCKS 2023, Milan, Italy

Authors: Matteo Vismara and Valentina Raspagni

Imagine being in Milan, Italy, together with a Nobel Prize Winner and 245 of the best minds in the world in the field of Physics: this is not imagination; it is PLANCKS, the world finals of the Physics Olympics.

PLANCKS is one of IAPS’ most significant annual events. The best physics students from all over the world, winners of national competitions, compete in solving problems concerning numerous physics disciplines. Every year, PLANCKS is organized by a different local committee. For the 2023 edition, the Milano Statale section of AISF has been entrusted with this role. AISF, the Italian Association of Physics Students, is the Italian National Committee of IAPS. The students of AISF will take care of the management and the correct execution of all the activities. They will help all the participants to enjoy the event, catering for their needs and requirements.

The tenth edition of PLANCKS will be held in Milan from 12 to 16 May 2023. In addition to the actual competition, which will take place in the Physics Department of the State University of Milan, there will also be presentations, seminars, guest lectures and visits to laboratories and centres of research in the Milan area. The event will allow students to discover new frontiers of scientific research, learn about Italian excellence and evaluate possible study paths in Italy, while making new personal and academic contacts. These activities also aim to help students from Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree courses to orient themselves in the world of work.

Since the first edition, which was held in Utrecht in 2014, the entire academic world has recognised PLANCKS as an opportunity for dialogue between students, researchers and professors. As evidence of this, there is a succession of guest lectures held by illustrious scientists of the calibre of Stephen Hawking and by many Nobel Prize winners for physics, such as Reinhard Genzel.

This year, Milan will have the honour of hosting: Marco Liscidini, associate professor of the Physics Department of the University of Pavia, recognised as a fellow by the Optical Society of America (OPTICA, ex OSA) and expert in the fields of photonics and optics classical and quantum nonlinear; Claudia Pasquero, associate professor of Oceanography and Atmospheric Physics at the University of Milan Bicocca and vice-president of the Mathematical Geophysics committee of the IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics); and Didier Queloz, Nobel Prize winner in 2019 for the discovery of the first exoplanet orbiting a primary sequence star.

Some of these lectures will take place in the classrooms of the University of Milan; others will be held in public spaces in the city of Milan to widen participation and include the local community. In fact, dissemination is one of the main objectives of IAPS and AISF: our mission is to take physics as far as possible, making sure that this splendid science, which links the abstract beauty of mathematics to the origin and transformation of our universe, is accessible to as many people as possible.
Opening these guest lectures to citizens makes the city of Milan an open-air laboratory, sharing the beauty of the ideas that have marked and still mark the path of science and technology in the history of humanity. It shows the importance of a scientific language, of a method, a
fundamental tool in the challenges that humanity must and will have to face.

PLANCKS is organised in collaboration with the Italian Physical Society (SIF) and is also supported by the European Physical Society (EPS), the Italian Society of Optics and Photonics (SIOF), the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) and the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA).

Follow the countdown to PLANCKS 2023 on Instagram and stay tuned for future jIAPS articles featuring PLANCKS Preliminaries.