Earlier this week, I attended a fantastic two day DigitialSky Academy, here in beautiful Hawaii.
It was just a small group of us, led by Martin Ratcliffe from Skyskan and consisting of the team from Fiske Planetarium – Matt, Chris, John and Beth; Toshi from Lawrence Hall of Science, Matt from California Academy, Troy and Doug from Skyskan, Shawn from Imiloa and myself.
It was great to see the Fiske team really stepping up to the DigitalSky challenge – they are in the process of upgrading their planetarium from analogue to 8K digital with a Megastar. It’s a pretty exciting time for them as they had only turned on their system last Friday, then hopped on the plane to Imiloa. But they have been programming with DS offline, since March and are already producing some really great content as they convert their tertiary astronomy material into DS.
Toshi presented “How big is the Universe”, one of the Interact Astronomy Teaching modules that he has produced. It’s great to see interaction and demonstrations going on in the dome environment, and we all did a mexican wave to demonstrate measuring distances using radar.
The theme of the workshop was exploring galaxy datasets, and we were treated to two special guest speakers – Jean-Charles Cuillandre from CFHT and Brent Tully from the University of Hawaii. The amount of extragalactic data being gathered is just extraordinary, and it was such an amazing experience to see the Tully Dataset in 3D and have Brent take us through all the structures. Brent is keen for us to start showing how galaxies are moving, which would be brilliant. I compare it to the days when we were first able to show precession of the stars – hopefully one day, we’ll be able to go forward and backward in time, watching how galaxies move and influence each other.