The past two days in Munich were a whir of work. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m part of the task group designing the Portal to the Universe, and my real reason for coming to Munich was to hash out plans with Lars Lindberg-Christiensen. Lars runs the team that does public communications (press releases, websites, products, etc) for the European side of Hubble, the Eurapean Space Agency, The European Southern Observatory, and the International Astronomical Union. To say he is a busy man would be an understatement, and I have to say that it was exhausting to watch him cleanly switch between projects and languages as he worked with his staff on at least 5 major projects at once. The Portal and I were just one small part of his day, but we managed to get an impressive amount of planning hammered out as we worked on a document that grew from a 15 page toddler to a 25 page adolescent in just 2 days.
What is the Portal to the Universe you ask? It is one of the cornerstone projects of the International Year of Astronomy, and it seeks to be a one-stop shop for anyone seeking just about anything related to astronomy. On itâ€šÃ„Ã´s pages you will find a astronomy news, images, videos, observing tools, and even a social network and version of Digg specific to astronomy. You just wonâ€šÃ„Ã´t find them yet. I anticipate programming will begin June 1, with a beta version of the site going live Dec 1 (with subparts existing before that, but not on dates I can define right now).