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More than 40 participants from 8 countries gathered at the Lorentz Center to explore, exchange and learn about networked technologies and the new media used for astronomy research and outreach. A press release announced the meeting (http://tinyurl.com/nova-dotastronomy).
The following themes were explored: citizen science, web-based research, visualisation and new media for outreach and education. During the mornings keynote speakers gave talks that were streamed on the Internet and recorded. The online following trebled the audience of the morning sessions with peaks at 140 viewers. The online recordings have received almost 500 viewings since the event, at time of writing. Dutch astronomy was well represented with two talks about Dutch-based facilities, Jive (e-VLBI) and LOFAR.
We held ‘unconference’ sessions in the afternoons: talks, workshops and discussions were user-generated and organised organically during the week. The Lorentz Center set-up with well-equipped meeting rooms was particularly suitable for this format. The unconference sessions were dedicated to hands-on group discussions on the impact of new technologies on research (Open Science, Virtual Worlds, Podcasting) and ‘101s’: introduction sessions to new technologies (Android phone programming, Remote telescope controllers, Lego NXT), etc. The final programme can be browsed at http://www.dotastronomy.com/programme/ .
We reserved one day mid-week for a ‘Hack day’ devoted to making new astronomy tools, giving new projects a head start and testing new ideas. Participants spontaneously formed groups and started working on new projects, of which some were achieved during the day and some are work in progress. At the end of the meeting prizes were given to participants, which were donated by O’Reilly Media. The meeting was sponsored by the Lorentz Center, NWO, ASTRON, RadioNet, the British Council/Platform Beta Techniek's Partnership in Science programme and the Royal Astronomical Society.
What characterised this meeting was a dynamic and notably young group of participants. The collaborations were intensive and resulted in concrete outcomes. The diversity and complementarity of skills present ensured that everyone contributed significantly to the meeting, demonstrating the collaborative nature of networked astronomy projects.
Being an official meeting of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) made this meeting the chosen time and place to make announcements (http://dotastronomy.com/press/) .Astronomy2009 saw the following announcements:
• GalaxyZoo reaching 50 million galaxy classifications
• Launch of Chromoscope (http://www.chromoscope.net/) Chromoscope is a web-based visualisation of the Milky Way in all wavelengths from gamma ray to microwave. It is zoomable and searchable. It is free and downloadable, allowing it to be used offline.
• Announcement of the continuation of the 365 days of astronomy podcast (http://www.365daysofastronomy.org/) in 2010. This podcast is the official podcast of the IYA2009 and is the first ever entirely community-contributed podcast
Other projects/products were started or advanced at the workshop, which will be released in 2010:
• Firetwitter is a real-time geo-coded visualisation tool for twitter messages related to astronomical events.
• BuriedData is a new service where unused astronomical data can be uploaded for other to use, reduce and publish.
• An iPhone application for Chromoscope.
• A Wordpress plug-in for Microsoft’s World Wide Telescope (WWT). Wordpress is a versatile blogging platform and the WWT incorporates visualisation and exploration of the sky linked directly with scientific data.
• A brainstorming session on citizen science yielded several potential new projects on the GalaxyZoo model.
• An ambition to try and make astronomy a more open science. Discussions were had throughout the week on how to create a sustainable, accessible open model for astronomy using networked technologies.
• Progress on publication metrics. During the week's informal sessions there was much debate on how to use the Internet to measure publication and citation metrics more easily and openly. This was pinpointed as topic for the next conference.