News and Events

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 on a policy recommendation document they are working on 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.

Members of Audio Universe posing with the award

"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/).


According to the organisers, the aim of the festival is to “connect the producers of amazing shows for digital planetariums with the operators of such planetariums.” We at Audio Universe are delighted at the opportunity for our show to reach more international audiences, furthering multisensory and accessible education in astronomy worldwide.

image showing outside of the Brno planetarium in Czechia

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.


During the program, you’ll hear some familiar voices from the show, including spaceship captain and teacher of visually impaired children Rachel Lambert as well as expert tour guide and visually impaired professional astronomer Dr. Nic Bonne. You’ll also hear from two young visually impaired students, Amrit Singh and Kiera Mills, who discuss the impact Audio Universe and accessible learning have had on them and their scientific aspirations. In particular, Amrit talks about his important role as a consultant throughout the design and development of the show and why he thinks it is so useful for blind children.

Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System premiers in England and Italy (December 2021)

Image of a planetarium with Audio Universe Tour of the Solar System on display (scene with the Very Large Telescope)

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)

Image of Leigh Harrison (composer), Chris Harrison (director), Amrit (vision impaired pupil adviser, in wheelchair), Rachel Lambert (teacher of visually impaired children and voice of captain)

Image Credits - Upper: Alessandro Nastasi/Fondazione GAL Hassin, Lower: J. Millard