News and Events
Here is a list of Audio Universe news and events.
An Ear to the Sky: STRAUSS release paper and sonification of galaxy data cubes
June 2023: In a double announcement and paper release we are introducing our new sonification code, STRAUSS, to the scientific community. The first paper, presented at the International Conference for Auditory Display 2023 in Sweden on 28th June, introduces the STRAUSS code and showcases its diverse applications, from sonifying scientific data for analysis, to making immersive soundscapes of the night sky (which are also accessible for those who can’t experience it visually).
A second paper, accepted into the Royal Astronomical Society Techniques & Instruments journal, uses the STRAUSS code to explore new forms of data coming from telescopes. In particular, it tests a new technique, converting the frequencies of light directly to audible frequencies, allowing scientists to hear specific resonances of different chemical elements and their motions of the gas within galaxies - beyond what can be seen in an image alone.
You can experience an example application in the video below: In this case we are listening to a specific frequency emitted by Hydrogen, which is shifted by the high-speed motion of the gas. In the central parts the sound is very “windy”, due to a powerful supermassive black hole causing a strong wind. The rest of the gas is rotating, which sounds like higher notes for the parts moving away from and lower notes for the parts moving towards us.
In the video below, you can experience a second example application of STRAUSS. The full 360 video, which can be played using a VR headset (or explored using the arrows in the top left of the video) uses spatial audio to map the positions of stars in the sky. You here the brightest stars first, the redder stars as lower notes, and the bluer stars as higher notes.
Audio Universe appears in Scientific American
January 2023: Sonification of Astronomy features in Scientific American's article "Audio Astronomy Unlocks a Universe of Sound", including quotes from Audio Universe team members, Chris Harrison and Anita Zanella, and other colleagues who were part of the workshop we ran at the Lorentz Centre "Audible Universe 2" in 2022. The story of how we co-created Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System with our partners also features in the article: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/audio-astronomy-unlocks-a-universe-of-sound/.
Special Sonification Edition in Nature Astronomy and Panelist for UN webinar
November 2022: This month Nature Astronomy published a special issue of their journal, featuring four articles on sonification of astronomical data, co-ordinated by the Audio Universe team. Furthermore, Chris Harrison, was one of expert five panelists in a webinar on sonification in space sciences run by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The recording of the 1.5 hour webinar is below, followed by a description of the Nature Astronomy articles.
The Nature Astronomy special issue is introduced by the editor with a commentary entitled "Hearing is Believing". The special issue is a result of the Audible Workshop, that was organised and chaired by our team (including Chris Harrison, Anita Zanella and Nic Bonne), that took place in the Lorentz Centre (Leiden) last year. This workshop brought together 50 researchers from a variety of backgrounds including astronomy, sound perception, sound design and education. The workshop discussed the current status of astronomy sonification projects as well as the current challenges facing progress in this area and ideas for future plans. Nature Astronomy took this opportunity to allow sonification to be included as a figure for the first time. Hopefully opening up the door for many more published sonifications in this journal and others. The outcomes of the workshop are summarised in four articles:
(1) A meeting report led by Chris Harrison. Link to main article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-021-01582-y. Link to a preprint version on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/2206.13542
(2) A review of almost 100 sonification projects in astronomy, led by Anita Zanella and Chris Harrison. Link to main article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-022-01721-z. Link to a preprint version on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/2206.13536
(3) A Questions and Answer article, with blind astronomers and science communicators (including Nic Bonne), co-ordinated by Jake Noel-Storr and Michele Willebrands. Link to main article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-022-01691-2. Link to a preprint version on arxiv: https://arxiv.org/abs/2206.13815
(4) A perspective article, written by sound experts (Misdariis et al.), providing their thoughts on current astronomy sonification projects, how they fit in to the broader sonification domain and advice for taking these projects forward. Link to main article: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-022-01821-w
Partly due to this work, and due to the wider Audio Universe project, UNOOSA contacted Chris Harrison to act as a consultant for a policy recommendation document on the topic of sonification and accessibility in space sciences. As part of this UNSOOA Space for Persons with Disabilities project that was run as a public webinar on the 17th November, and Chris was one of the five expert panelists taking part.
Audio Universe named winner of the Early Career Academic Award at the Newcastle University Engagement and Place Awards 2022.
October 2022: Last week, Dr. Chris Harrison and Audio Universe were presented the Early Career Academic Award at the Newcastle University Engagement and Place Awards, a showcase celebrating innovative collaborations between the University and the public that demonstrate research excellence and work for the public good. The Early Career Academic Award recognises these qualities in engagement projects led by an early career academic from across all of the university faculties. At the time of consideration, the planetarium show had been downloaded by 31 planetariums internationally and has received over 1,300 combined views in English, Spanish and Italian.
"Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System" selected to be screened at Fulldome Festival Brno
May 2022: “Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System” was chosen to be one of the 36 planetarium shows screened at Fulldome Festival Brno 2022, a showcase of some of the top new planetarium shows across Europe. The festival will take place during 8-10 June at the Brno Observatory and Planetarium in Brno, Czechia. Find out more about the event on their website (https://www.fulldomefestivalbrno.com/).
Image Credits: The European Space Agency
Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System featured on BBC Radio 4's "In Touch"
February 2022: On February 8th, Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System was featured during an episode of the “In Touch” Podcast, a BBC Radio 4 podcast highlighting news and stories relating to the blind or visually impaired community. The feature is during the second half (beginning at 7:58) of the episode titled “The Elections Bill; Hearing the Universe.” It is available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00146xb.
Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System premiers in England and Italy (December 2021)
December 2021: Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System makes its international premier during the first week of December 2021.
In Italy, the show premiered in five planetariums across the country during the International Days for People with Disabilities, December 3rd-5th. The planetariums include Infini.to (Torino), Città della Scienza (Napoli), Planetario INAF-OAC (Cagliari), Gal Hassin (Isnello) and Planetario Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica (Firenze). The premiers in Italy were co-ordinated by Dr. Anita Zanella of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Padova.
In England, the show premiered in two locations on December 6th. In Newcastle Upon Tyne, a showing was led by Dr. Chris Harrison of Newcastle University at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle. In Winchester, Dr. Nicolas Bonne and Dr. James Trayford, both of the University of Portsmouth, led a showing at the Winchester Science Centre.
The full 4k dome planetarium show is freely available, and we hope that Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System will make its premier in many other planetariums internationally! As of now, the show is available in English, Italian, and Spanish. You can watch the show online on our webpage: https://www.audiouniverse.org/tour-of-the-solar-system
Below you can listen to Dr Nic Bonne being interviewed for RNIB Connect Radio (9 minutes). Below this is an image from the Newcastle Premiere with Leigh Harrison (composer), Chris Harrison (director), Amrit (vision impaired pupil adviser), Rachel Lambert (teacher of visually impaired children and voice of captain).
Work for a Planetarium? Obtain the files for the full-dome planetarium version here.
Want to download the flat screen version in English? Do so here.
Check out the UK (Newcastle University) press release
Check out the Italian press release
Image Credits - Upper: Alessandro Nastasi/Fondazione GAL Hassin, Lower: J. Millard