.astronomy wrap-up

Wednesday was Hack Day at dot astronomy. I spent the day working on a tool that uses seadragon ajax and a modified Python tilecutter to allow people with large astronomical images (tens to hundreds of megapixels) to easily upload them to App Engine for viewing by users. This is useful because many really attractive astronomical images get released to the public, but often only in two versions: 'desktop wallpaper' and 'too big to view'. Ideally, with this tool (which I'm tentatively calling astrozoom), astronomers could make it easy for users to view and zoom the product of their work.

Further extensions would include integration with astrometry.net to automatically locate and annotate uploaded images, and support for clipping out and downloading certain sections of an image, not to mention community features like sharing with friends, comments, and embedding in other pages.

I got the basic upload-and-display functionality done on hack day, but due to lack of memory on my mac to run the tool on a decently sized image, I'm unable to show it off yet.

Other hack-day projects included a large team working on a project called Buried Data, for making datasets available for research that would otherwise remain 'buried' in someone's "todo" box, and chromoscope, a tool that lets you view the night sky in a wide range of spectrums.

Thursday had Jonathan Fay from Microsoft giving a fascinating talk on Worldwide Telescope, which looks like a truly impressive citizen astronomy application. Later, John Taylor gave a talk on sky map for android, followed by an Android hackathon, which covered the basics of developing apps for the Android.

I returned to Dublin Thursday evening, so I didn't catch the last day of the conference. It's all being videoed, however, for anyone interested in catching up with it.


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