For the past several years, my cohost and friend Fraser Cain has been talking about wanting to change how we do astronomy – change access, change the embargo system, change even peer-review. He’s not the only one: All across the internets we’ve seen open science projects of various types crop up and slowly take root. This summer, I finally let Fraser infect me with the idea of creating a wall free environment for learning and doing science; an online community where people come together to attend astronomy lectures, to participate in star parties, to talk about the science they are working to do in their own backyard, and the science they are working to do in their own web browser.

This ideal is what we’re going to try and build with CosmoQuest.

In October we announced our plans at the “European Planetary Science Conference” ; we started looking for partners, and we started building websites. The first 80% was done by Dec 25 (I love my team of programmers).

For the past several weeks, I haven’t slept very much as we worked to finish. On Dec 31, we had the first 95% done, and launched in beta. That last 5% though – the evil details of error checking, and caching, and user design, and… and all the niggling details – it has been keeping us up at night.

Finally, I think I’m ready to share in beta. This is a community project, so we’re asking you – our wished for community – to help us look at the beta and figure out what can we do make this someplace you want to hangout online? We want this to be some place you want to hangout.

And I’ll be hanging out on Google Plus listening to what you have to say. I’ll open a google hangout periodically just to chat. Join me? Let’s build a place to do science together.