365daysDate: June 29, 2009

Title: Update from the 365 Days of Astronomy Team


Podcasters: Michael Koppelman, Pamela Gay, Nancy Atkinson, Stuart Lowe, Robert Simpson

Organization: 365 Days of Astronomy

Description: Michael, Pamela, Nancy, Stuart and Rob provide an update on the 365 Days of Astronomy.

Bio: Find Michael on Slacker Astronomy, Pamela on Astronomy Cast, Nancy at Universe Today, Stuart at Astronomy Blog and Rob at Orbiting Frog.

Today’s sponsor:


Michael Koppelman: Hello and welcome again to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. It’s June 29, 2009 and the New Media working group/365 Days of Astronomy team is assembled to give you all a little bit of an update of what’s been going on on the podcast.

Most of you who are doing podcasts with us know Nancy Atkinson. She’s been coordinating sign-ups and the delivery of the podcasts. Nancy, how’s it been going?

Nancy Atkinson: It’s going really great. Our calendar is still technically completely full for the entire year. I just wanted to say how impressed we are with the quality of podcasts that everyone is producing. Thanks so much to everyone out there who is making the 365 Days of Astronomy podcasts such a successful part of the International Year of Astronomy.

That said however, we have had some issues with people dropping out. Most of the time people do let us know with some warning when they aren’t going to be able to deliver on their podcast. Other times they don’t however. Sometimes we just don’t hear from people. June was a particularly difficult month as we had about seven or eight people drop out. Thankfully there were some generous folks out there who volunteered to fill in on short notice.

We also were very happy to have some back-up podcasts, what we call emergency podcasts on hand that we’ve had submitted by people all around the world who kind of heeded our call back in March that we wanted to have some back-up podcasts available to use. Thanks to those brave souls who submitted a podcast without even having a set date. Right now we have about four back-up podcasts on hand but we still have over half the year to go.

If the first half was any indication of needing back-up podcasts to fill in last minute open dates, four won’t be anywhere near enough to get us through the rest of the year. We do know that things happen. Family issues or medical issues or just plain life happens issues and creating a podcast is no small commitment. If there is anyone out there who would still like to participate in this podcast contact us.

We can either put you on the waiting list or if you really want to help us out let us know that you’d like to submit a back-up podcast. We’ll give you all the information you need to take part.

Also just a repeat reminder for all the contributors, please get your podcast and transcript uploaded on time which means 30 days ahead of your scheduled air date. Things run so much smoother if everything is here on time.

On the whole, everyone is doing just a great job. It is so much fun to hear everyone’s interests and expertise in astronomy and space exploration. I thought I’d give you just a preview of a few things coming up in July.

We have the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. We have several podcasts on and around July 20th commemorating that event. That should be a fun way to celebrate that milestone.

Michael: Thanks a lot Nancy. Nancy is doing a tremendous amount of work for this project and really you should send her money on Pay Pal [laughter] or send her flowers or give her gift certificates to the iTunes store. Really it has been a tremendous amount of work, thank you Nancy.

Nancy: You bet, it is fun.

Michael: Emily Lakdawalla before Nancy was doing the same thing and sort of paved the way. Are we going to get Emily back the latter part of this year? Does anyone know?

Rob?: I hope so.

Dr. Pamela Gay: She will be coming back after maternity leave.

Michael: One of the interesting contentions with our little podcast is the theme song, half the people love it and exactly half the people are over it. To that end and for other logical reasons, we started a weekly podcast feed where we sort of put all seven shows from any given calendar week together into one podcast.

I don’t know how many of you are listening to the podcast feed. Actually maybe that’s a question for Stuart and Rob who put that feed together. Stuart, tell us about the weekly feed.

Stuart: Well as you’ve just said very early on in the year we realized that not everyone likes their astronomy in eight to ten minute chunks. Some people prefer more of an hour length at a time.

We created a weekly feed mostly done automatically by scripts on a computer and generated from the daily feed. I think quite a few people have been downloading it that way, haven’t they Rob?

Rob: Oh yes we have got nearly 11,000 downloads of the weekly shows since it started. We get about 300ish subscribers. The number kind of oscillates around that.

There are certainly people listening who prefer even larger chunks. I’m one of those incidentally. I have a one week sit down session with the 365 Days of Astronomy [laughter].

Stuart: So do I.

Michael: So you guys really made that feed for yourselves is what you’re saying.

Stuart: Pretty much.

Rob: It’s no offense to the theme song. I enjoy the theme song it’s just that every single day it was just a very short broadcast. I spend an hour walking every day to and from work so I kind of prefer to just save it all up and enjoy it at one go.

Stuart: It also means that I don’t have to listen to myself on the ____5:17 every day. [Laughter]

Michael: I like the weekly feed too. I generally listen to the podcast when I’m doing the dishes so I can get through maybe about three episodes. I have to choose between a weekly episode and hand-picking a few of the daily episodes. Choice, it’s all about choice people.

Stuart: Michael, how do the numbers compare on the daily feed? Three hundred on a weekly feed is what kind of a percentage of the total?

Michael: We’re still getting about 5,000 downloads a day of the daily feed. I think that the daily feed is still by far the most majority of our audience but the weekly feed is growing. It seems like it is trending upward while the daily feed is sort of flat.

I sort of thought that the daily feed would be growing but I might have mentioned this before, I think so many of us can’t listen every single day so on average there’s 5,000 a day.

Some people aren’t listening that day and other people are catching up that day kind of thing. In total we’re at about 620,000 downloads for the daily feed. Do you know the total downloads on the weekly feed?

Rob: It’s 10,700.

Michael: Cool.

Rob: That’s been going since February 10th so it is of a slightly different, but it seems like it is good to have the option.

Michael: Absolutely and it looks like we’re annualizing towards about 1.2 million downloads or something like that if we’re really half way. I guess we really are half way. But who knows, we might pick up some steam here in the second half of the year.

Rob: Yeah, especially with the moon landings; the anniversary of the moon landings, not the real landings. [Laughter]

Pamela: If people want to help get word out about our show, there are a lot of small things you can do. You can twitter about it. You can blog about it and just writing a review for us on iTunes will help get more people knowing what the show is all about and why you like it.

Michael: That reminds me too Pamela, we had someone write in and say wouldn’t it be nice if we pulled out some of the “best of’ or something like that. We’ve sort of been very agnostic in terms of really appreciating all the podcasts.

That doesn’t mean you out there dear listener couldn’t blog about your favorite podcast and you could think of that anyway you want. The best ones from each month, the best one from every topic, just the ones that appeal to you for some reason. There’s this huge quantity of content sitting out there now. Most podcasts don’t broadcast every day.

We have almost more astronomy audio content than a lot of people out there. There is a lot to choose from if you want to help us sort of pick out some of the gems that people should listen to.

Pamela, we are still getting inquires on sponsorships. Are we full up on the daily sponsorships and are there any other opportunities for sponsorships of the podcast?

Pamela: We’re almost filled up on the daily sponsorships. Last I looked we had under ten spots available. All because we fill up on the daily shows doesn’t mean you can’t still help us out. With our project there are a lot of things we’d like to do.

We’d like to get CDs that we can hand out to people. We’d like to keep going perhaps next year if we aren’t all exhausted and sick of each other come December. [Laughter] If you fund us now, that will help us make the decisions about what we can do next year.

If you’re a corporation looking to do something, if you’re an individual looking to help out, right now all you’re funding is two wonderful students holding this show together. All the rest of us that you’re hearing right now are donating our time. Your dollars are basically paying tuition costs for two undergrads.

Michael: I may have mentioned this last time but I just wanted people to know that our plan was not to solicit people for daily sponsorships. Originally we were going to have a couple large corporate sponsors that essentially sponsored the whole year but really I think that the unfortunate turn of luck sort of turned into a good thing.

We’re getting a lot of people sponsoring podcasts which is I think just making the podcast come up in conversation and get spread around a lot more than it would have if we had literally just one big or two big corporate sponsors. It’s a distributed podcast that’s user contributed and now we’re user contributed on the sponsorship side too and I think it’s great.

So, are we getting the bills paid Pamela?

Pamela: We’re getting all the bills paid so far. We’re halfway through the year and all of our technology so far has behaved. We’re using donated technology; donated time from us and two great kids are putting all of the effort into making the show possible.

Michael: If you do want to associate your company or your organization with the podcast you can try to get one of the few remaining daily sponsorships or just help sponsor us in sort of an overall way. We can list you on the website. We can mention your name on the air.

There are a lot of ways that we can sort of pay you back for your sponsorship through the word-of-mouth of this podcast. So, e-mail us and let us know if you can help out.

One last thing before we go. We have some very cool T-shirts with the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast logo on it. They’re available in a variety of sizes. We’ll ship them around the world. Head to our website: and go to the shop tab on the navigation and you can see the T-shirts and if you’re interested you can buy one.

All of our sponsorships and all of our “profits” from things like this go directly to supporting the podcast. This is a not-for-profit operation so support us in another way too and wear your 365 Days of Astronomy podcast T-shirt around.

This is Michael from Slacker Astronomy saying thank you all very much everybody for your participation and for listening. We’re only half way there so stick around.

Pamela: This is Pamela Gay from Astronomycast. Thanks for listening and keep downloading.

Stuart: This is Stuart from Astronomy Blog. Thanks everyone for listening and remember to check out the weekly show.

Robert Simpson: This is Robert Simpson from Orbiting Frog. Please keep contributing your podcasts and I’m enjoying them a lot.

Nancy: This is Nancy Atkinson from Universe Today and I just want to thank everybody for all their hard work.

Michael: Now let’s hear that song one more time and Stuart’s nice little outro credit thingey. In 3,2,1.

Stuart: It’s far; it’s far, far, far. [Laughter]

This transcript is not an exact match to the audio file. It has been edited for clarity. Transcription and editing by Cindy Leonard.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at or email us at Until tomorrow…goodbye.