.astronomy, IYA 2009 new media and more

Yeah I’m great with catchy post titles I know but I have lots of things to blog about that are loosely related, so this is going to be a bit of a round up of the myriad of thoughts swirling in my head.

Today saw the .astronomy conference kick off in Cardiff, here in the UK. It’s being organised by Rob from the Orbiting Frog blog and addresses the rise of new media and networking and its impact on astronomy. I’m really disappointed I couldn’t make it over to Cardiff, but thankfully Rob has captured the talks from today, on Ustream, so we can all join in. When I get a chance I will try and post up my thoughts on press releases and new media, I had initially prepared to present, here on the blog.

Anyway, I’ve been watching the Ustream videos whilst having tea this evening and have so far seen Chris Lintott‘s and Paul Roche‘s talk. Both are well worth a watch, particularly Chris’s. He’s a great public speaker and his talk summarises very nicely the cool Galaxy Zoo project. It also seems that this week should see the opening of Galaxy Zoo 2, which is exciting – we’ll probably hear more about that soon. Paul’s talk covered the Faulkes Telescope and the work he and his team are doing with outreach and education. The Faulkes project gives schools and societies access to a huge 2-metre telescope via the Internet , which they can control to take their own images and data; if you think your local school or society might be interested you can find out more on the link above.

Paul also mentioned that the next step for this type of project is the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network which looks very impressive. The aim is to get students in schools doing more of their own research via a large network of telescopes all over the world, alongside a similarly large network of actual research telescopes. The network should be able to study all sorts of interesting celestial objects including extrasolar planets, supernovae and gamma-ray bursts! There are more videos from today’s sessions on the .astronomy Ustream channel and you can follow tomorrow’s talks and events via the conference’s Twitter feed.

Moving seamlessly on to more new media news from the new media wing of the International Year of Astronomy. Via an email from Pamela Gay (a.k.a Star Stryder, the chair of the International Year of Astronomy New Media Task Group) comes news of the Portal to the Universe and the digital treasure amassing therein. Put simply, the Portal is going to be a vast repository of astro links, news, feeds and tools to get astronomers, educators and people from all over the world talking, interacting and communicating about astronomy via the web and in real life. Not just for 2009 but forever.

You can submit your own astronomy blog/website/feed if you have one, or you can use the already listed links to navigate your way to more content than you can shake a feed reader at. I’ve already found some very nice astro-blogs I didn’t know about! If you haven’t subscribed to my RSS feed then you can find it here, should you so wish. There are only 100 days left until the International Year of Astronomy so it’s time to get involved and make 2009 an international year like no other!

Finally, as part of the 2008 Magazine Week here in the UK BBC Sky At Night magazine will be guests (alongside BBC Focus magazine) at the Borders bookstore in Cardiff on Thursday 2nd October. Come and say hi if you are in the area. We will have a stand inside the store, for part of the day, where we’ll be displaying some of the latest NASA images from space and we should have a PST solar telescope with us too if the Sun comes out.

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