There is a real desire to study how we understand science images. How do we learn from these images? How much do variations in presentation affect comprehension? Are there differences between experts and novices in terms of what we take away from the images?
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.
One question that hasn’t been fully researched is how does the public perceive these images? To explore this topic, a group from Chandra, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and experts in the field of aesthetics have formed the Aesthetics and Astronomy group – known as the A&A project — to explore these issues and more. Aesthetics from a psychological perspective is the study of all things beautiful whether art or not, and all things art whether beautiful or not.
ADDITIONAL A&A PODCAST: NASA’S BLUESHIFT