Keeping the Spirit of the International Year of Astronomy Alive

As the International Year of Astronomy comes to a close, those involved hope to sustain the momentum gained during the year in communicating astronomy with the public. The IYA produced a number of excellent new media projects, creating fresh excitement and enthusiasm for astronomy and science. A new non-profit organization and website have been created to provide a brand- new “home” to sustain IYA projects such as the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast and Second Astronomy in Second Life ™, as well as other existing and new projects. Astrosphere New Media Association is dedicated to promoting science and skeptical thought through internet-based technologies and distribution. Its efforts are focused on the creation of technologies and content that enable better astronomy communications and greater astronomy content access for the public.

The projects encompassed by Astrosphere New Media include the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, Second Astronomy, the popular Astronomy Cast podcast and a new project for 2010, We Are Astronomers. Additionally, Astrosphere will be hosting the archival websites from the US IYA.

The Internet provides a new way for astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts to communicate and interact with the public. Astronomy communicators can use these new forms of communication — such as blogs, podcasts, social networks, interactive data tools, and community content sites (such as wikis) – to provide the public with dynamic web content through Web 2.0 technologies.

Astrosphere New Media Association will help facilitate this “new media” and new communications for astronomy.

“This project rose out of two needs,” said Dr. Pamela Gay, Executive Director of Astrosphere. “There are many of us working together in our spare time to communicate astronomy to the world. We’re building tools, writing content, and then giving it all away. What we needed was a central advocate who could work to find us a little funding for travel and servers and just help us get what we do out to the world. Astrosphere is here to be that advocate, and to provide IYA projects a home beyond 2009.”

The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is a community project that “airs” one podcast per day, 5 to 10 minutes in duration, for all 365 days of the year. The podcast episodes are written, recorded and produced by people around the world who donate a few minutes to share their passion for astronomy.

Second Astronomy, takes real world events into virtual realities, allowing the citizens of Second Life (TM) a way to experience projects such as From Earth to the Universe and The World at Night. Early in 2010 Second Astronomy will showcase John Gleason’s h-alpha astrophotography and roll out an island size Spitzer MIPSGAL/GLIMPSE walkable image. Later in the year, new virtual ‘as the eye sees’ telescopes will be rolled out, wrapped in a star party atmosphere and a cultural astronomy “sky stories” experience.

Astronomy Cast takes a facts-based journey through the universe each week with Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (Star Stryder). The podcasts are available online or through iTunes.

We Are Astronomers is a Beyond 2009 project that looks to capture the diversity of who we are as astronomers through pictures and videos. Astronomers include professionals, amateurs and armchair enthusiasts. To find out how you can help, email [email protected].

Other new media science and astronomy projects and even skepticism projects looking for collaborators, direction, support or a “home” are welcome to contact Astrosphere New Media Association at:

Astrosphere New Media Association
P.O. Box 804
Edwardsville, IL 62025
email:[email protected]

For corporations or individuals looking to support new media efforts, Astrosphere New Media Association is a non-profit organization, and your tax-deductible contributions will help make online astronomy possible, allowing above projects to continue and expand, as well as providing for other events such as live-streaming of astronomy meetings and conferences. Donations will pay internet hosting, provide salary for staff, and help cover the costs of the hardware and software used to make all programs possible. Contact [email protected] for more information.