Oh what a year can bring

Jan 2, 2013 | Behind the Scenes

This time last year, Cory, Joe, and I were all working our collective a**es (and everything else) off as we desperately coded our way toward the launch of CosmoQuest. We hoped it would succeed. We hoped that we’d build a community, and do science, and start something that allowed vibrant collaborations and relationships to arise from our new cyber infrastructure. At the same time, Fraser and all the gang with the Virtual Star Parties were getting started defining a new way to use the Google Hangout on Air technology to connect people face-to-face, around the world. In those early days of 2012, everything with a tangled mess of sleepless nights, constant programming, and big dreams.

I’m not really sure any of us slept that first week of January.

With CosmoQuest, we weren’t aiming to engage the world, we were aiming to build a community. That’s a tricky thing, that in many ways is much harder to do. It’s easy (relatively) to build a page viewed by millions, but harder to build a page that keeps even hundreds coming back over and over again to be part of a single community. Over the year, through  social media and the forums,  I’ve watched as questions turned to dialogues, and even turned into friendships. I want to say thank you, because you kept coming back, and because I got to meet so many of you face-to-face – many of you becoming my new friends – and  because you showed we can create a community of science.

And I need to thank you: because of you we are generating science.

In November, Stuart and Irene submitted our first science paper, and we got back our first round of referee comments over the holidays. They were encouraging, but we still have some work left to do before we see the results of your work in press. They are working on other papers now, and I expect 2013 to be the year of publications.

As we work toward keeping CosmoQuest growing, you’re going to begin to see some changes. On the forums, we’re going to be moving to a single theme, allowing us to more easily maintain the software,  and are going to be making the site secure through https connections. On the media side of things, we’re going to be merging with the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, which is currently on hiatus for a couple of weeks, and bringing you a fresh new lineup of content side-by-side with your favorites, like the virtual star parties. New science projects are also on their way; we are just waiting for data to come in for missions like the Hubble Space Telescope. We are also going to be looking into continuing to do more and more real world interactions; more face-to-face meet ups in association with conferences, standalone events in the US and Europe, and perhaps even scientific travel opportunities in association with Astronomy Cast.

CosmoQuest is a work in progress. Like every community, we are always changing and evolving as the needs of the individuals who make up this community change. We want to hear from you, and  we want to know what you need. On the Forums, Scott Lewis (KnowTheCosmos) is your go to man. If you are a formal educator, Georgia Bracey (GeorgiaB) can help you.  Nicole Gugliucci (NoisyAstronomer) can help you with informal education, and has the inside scoop on all our hangouts.  Have ideas for software or upgrades to our site? Cory Lehan (Cory) can help.  And me?  I’m  here to help define new ways all of us can explore our universe. If you have a science question you think we can help with –  that you think this community can help answer – let’s talk.  You can reach all of us through getinvolved@CosmoQuest.org

Where would you like to explore tomorrow?  Let’s work on getting there together.


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