Early April. The sun shines almost horizontally at this time of the year onto the buildings of New College in Oxford. This centuries old institution has seen many students and professors since its foundation in 1379. This week however, the college is looking to the future, the future of Astronomy and new media, as it hosts .Astronomy 3.

This workshop is the third in a series started in 2008 that explores and creates new tools for astronomy, from compelling outreach to citizen science and professional data mining and visualisation. It turns out that all those aspects of astronomy come together on the common new media ground, which brings visually pleasant tools for research and brings people closer to researchers. While this is a natural consequence of the emergence of new and social media, it is also increasingly important at a time when funding for science is under pressure and could really do with popular support.

.Astronomy is never boring. It combines fantastic keynote addresses that are streamed online with afternoon unconferences designed to cater to the participants' interests. A key feature of the meeting is the Astronomy Hack Day that often extends way into the evening.

"Technology may well outlive it’s civilisation" Jill Tarter


This year, Jill Tarter from the SETI Insitute set the tone with the dream of coming across signs of intelligent life in the universe, while keeping our feet well on the ground: the search itself brings the best and the most creative out of the members of the SETI institute to a point where the dream has already paid off many times over.

Space travel from your couch

Jonathan Fay from Microsoft research brought a couple of Kinects, Microsoft's new remote control technology without a remote control. The kinect was used to surf space with the World Wide Telescope. Many tried while others watched and the most applause came when we got a glimpse into the backend of how the kintect works, just what you'd expect from a bunch of technology geeks...

Music emerged as this year's Hack Day theme.

The connection between astronomy and music is a natural one, between the beats of pulsars to the analogies between gravitational waves and acoustic oscillations to the sound waves stirring our emotions. The hack day saw the creation and launch of Chromotone, while others took part in the making of a music video for Amanda Bauer's 'Pluto the previous planet'

.Astronomy 3 group photo

This short account doesn't give justice to all the great ideas and great presentations that were shared during the meeting but one this is certain: .Astronomy 4 is going to happen and as usual, the question is where? and when?

Follow @dotastronomy on twitter to be the first to know...


Carolina Ödman-Govender was born in Switzerland, of Swedish descent. She studied physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne before completing a PhD in cosmology at the University of Cambridge. After her PhD, she spent some time working for UNESCO and in South Africa as tutor at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). She worked as a post-doc in Rome then she joined Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands where she started and developed an international outreach programme: 'Universe Awareness'. Since 2010 she lives in South Africa. She is the director of academic development for the AIMS - Next Einstein Initiative, a programme devoted to building African centres of excellence in the mathematical sciences. She is one of the organizers of the '.Astronomy' workshop series, which explores the new media dimension of astronomical research and outreach.


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