A&A Goes to the AAAS


On Sunday, Kim Arcand will be talking Aesthetics & Astronomy (A&A) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) with the A&A group’s latest poster on examining perceptions of astronomy images across mobile platforms. Below is a summary of the poster. Follow along with the meeting on Twitter at #AAASmtg.

Does This iPad Make My Asteroid Look Fat?:

Examining perceptions of astronomy images across mobile platforms.

The online study, conducted in December of 2010, resulted in 2,384 usable responses, in which participants on their mobile devices were randomly assigned to view 1 of 12 astronomy images. We collected demo- graphic data, information about the type of mobile device, reactions to the image shown, and viewing laten- cies for how long viewers looked at the image. Additionally, two focus groups were conducted, one with 12 experts (astrophysicists/astronomers) and one with 10 non-expert volunteers from the public.

Both experts and non-experts were presented with 3 deep space images across 3 platforms: a large projec- tion screen, an iPad, and a small mobile device (e.g., an iPhone). Although this was part of a larger study, we report here just on the mobile platform. Results indicated that there was support for Smith & Smith’s (2001) concept of facsimile accommodation in that, as might be expected, bigger was better except in the absence of a comparison, where participants adapted to the platform size. The results raise questions as to both size and quality of images on mobile platforms in a rapidly changing technological world.

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