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Arcand, K.K., Watzke, M., Smith, L, Smith, J.K “Surveying Aesthetics & Astronomy: A project exploring the public’s perception of astronomy images and the science within” Communicating Astronomy with the Public. Issue 10 December 2010. http://www.capjournal.org/issues/10/10_13.php
Every year, hundreds of astronomical images are released to the public by the many telescopes on the ground and in space – including the Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes — that observe the Universe. These images span the entire electromagnetic spectrum, mostly representing light and phenomena that cannot be detected by the human eye.
The first paper on the preliminary results of the study has been accepted by Science Communication. View it online at http://scx.sagepub.com (pre-print available at http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/1009.0772 ). Our latest research grant from the Smithsonian is enabling us to study the perception of astronomy images across multiple platforms (web,mobile, print,large scale) at participating science centers in the summer and fall of 2010.
NASA’s Blueshift podcast interviewed Dr. Randall Smith of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a collaborator on the Aesthetics & Astronomy project that is looking into how the public perceives multi-wavelength astronomical imagery. Randall shares some surprising early results from the project that may change the way we communicate with images.