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Remember to look up at the Stars and not down at your Data

19 Nov 2018, 20:05 UTC
Remember to look up at the Stars and not down at your Data
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Last June 2018, a group of astronomy educators, under the auspices of the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program, headed to the Atacama Desert to improve their outreach skills and stargaze in the driest desert in the world. The combination of high altitude, arid landscape, and low population results in some of the best observing conditions in the world. Here’s one ambassador’s story — from an up and coming data-driven scientist at Columbia University — and how she finally got the chance to view the actual phenomenon represented in her myriad data tables.

When you think of space, what’s the first image that comes to mind? I bet it’s not something like this:

But that’s exactly what I picture when I think of space because I’m a research astronomer who never went stargazing as a kid. Since I entered this field five years ago, I’ve thought of space as a series of data tables that I can manipulate and use to perform calculations; I don’t even know how to find the Big Dipper in the sky. But that all changed thanks to the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program.
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