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Paper: The Aesthetics of Astronomy: Exploring the Public's Perception of Astronomy Images and the Science Within
Volume: 442, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XX (ADASSXX)
Page: 179
Authors: Arcand, K. K.; Watzke, M.; Smith, L. F.; Smith, J. K.
Abstract: Every year, hundreds of astronomical images are released to the public via the efforts of professional education and public outreach (EPO) specialists, as well as from scientists themselves and amateur astronomers. Each of these images represents a variety of decisions from the individual or team that assembled it. These choices include cropping, color, contextualization, and many more. But how effective are these choices in both engaging the public's interest and communicating scientific information to them? In 2008, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory began a unique research study — dubbed the Aesthetics & Astronomy (A&A) project — to examine these very questions. The study included images from across the electromagnetic spectrum and probed the effects of the scientific and artistic choices in processing astronomical data. This paper provides an overview of the results of the preliminary 2008 A&A study and includes a synopsis of the direction of the ongoing 2010 study.
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