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Old 29-01-2006, 08:37 AM
RussellH
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Astronomy Podcasting

Hi Folks,

I've been toying with the idea of creating an Astronomy Podcast for several months now. For those who don't know, a Podcast is like an Internet based radio program, that, through software, you can subscribe to, and have downloaded to your computer/mp3 player automatically when new episodes are released.

There are quite a few Astronomy podcasts already, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel. Most howver are interviews and/or technical discussions of specific astronomical events, plus several with general current observational information.

My aim is to produce something light and entertaining for the casual astronomer, with hopefully useful information for the more knowledgable astronomers as well. The main focus would be a summary of weekly astronomy news, and then after that whatever content is appropriate, which would include things like software & web site reviews, other astronomy podcast reviews/highlights, historical event recounts, famous astonomer biographies, current sky & upcoming events/highlights, Q&A from listeners and maybe a smattering of podsafe music as well.

I have several choices for the news format, such as
- a fast 2-5 minute news flash of every possible story type format
- a slower 10 - 15 minute editorial discussion of the most important news items
- an in-depth discussion on 1 or 2 items (which is what everyone else is doing)

So, after that brain dump, I'm interested to hear feedback from you guys addressing the following
  • How many people listen to Astronomy Podcasts and which ones?
  • How long is too long, and how short is too short?
  • How often would you like to get news information - daily/weekly/monthly?
  • Do you normally listen while observing, or somewhere else?
  • Are you interested in current observational information as well as news? (I personally have a problem with this due to geographic locations providing different views)
  • Do you feel there is already too many astronomy podcasts and another one would not contribute anything useful?
  • Do you have any other suggestions for another format you would like to see?
Comments on any of the above would be greatly appreciated.

Russell.
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  #2  
Old 29-01-2006, 10:28 AM
andre
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I have never listened to an astronomy podcast before. Can you suggest some so that I could listen to them and give you feedback on what are there pro's and con's?
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Old 29-01-2006, 10:42 AM
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http://www.sbstars.com/mambo/index.p...d=40&Itemid=93
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Old 29-01-2006, 11:01 AM
RussellH
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Thanks for that link stinky, didn't even know there was a local one myself.

The last one there, http://astronomy.libsyn.com is a new one that is actually fairly close to what I originally had in mind, so I'm now looking to vary from that format.

Another popular one that is very popular, is the folks at slacker astronomy (http://slackerastronomy.com) but it is a different format to what I'm planning.

PS - at the risk of offending everyone, I'm trying to move away from the 'stuffy astronomer' image as well, and try to promote atronomy to the masses.
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Old 29-01-2006, 11:23 AM
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Greetings & salutations, andre.
If you go here, you'll find a link to their podcast.
http://www.universetoday.com/
Give you an idea of what is avail. L.
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Old 29-01-2006, 11:27 AM
RussellH
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Yes, how silly of me not mentioning Universe today - a great Podcast. I've already spoken to Fraser Caine, the owner, and repackaging his news articles is also on my agenda.

BTW, Jim Barclay at Maidenwell is missing a crucial part to what he is calling his podcasts. There really needs to be a syndication link (via RSS so you can subscribe and have each episode automatically download) to be a true podcast, otherwise it's just another MP3 file you can download and listen to.
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Old 29-01-2006, 12:41 PM
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True - but as it's a volountary site bandwidth maybe an issu?
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Old 29-01-2006, 01:58 PM
RussellH
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Yeah that's my main worry, is how my bandwidth will cope. Bad RSS readers do not obey the release windows and can suck up bandwidth as much as the podcasts themselves.
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Old 31-01-2006, 06:25 PM
RussellH
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OK well, I guess the lack of response means 1 of 3 things

1. No one listens to podcasts
2. No one reads the forum
3. I'm too impatient

Either way, guess I'll have to try elsewhere for my answers.

Thanks.
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  #10  
Old 31-01-2006, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RussellH
OK well, I guess the lack of response means 1 of 3 things

1. No one listens to podcasts
2. No one reads the forum
3. I'm too impatient

Either way, guess I'll have to try elsewhere for my answers.

Thanks.
Russell the forum gets busy sometimes and the posts get buried under others and people sometimes miss them.
I know I miss things because I usually click on "New Posts" and if I come back later the forum assumes I have read those ones.

It's a good idea you have there.
I've never lisened to a podcast. I'll check it out.
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Old 31-01-2006, 06:50 PM
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You're giving up too easily, Russell.

I don't think many people browsing an astronomy site would listen to podcasts (maybe because it might be an older audience). So it's a question that many would find difficult to answer without experiencing it.

If Mike had asked if people were interested in an astronomy site/forum when he first thought of it, he wouldn't have started. Trust me. I was there when he said it and I said "Nah...I don't know... who'd be interested in that."

What I'm saying is, don't get discouraged if you think it's a good idea. Sometimes you can see what other peole can't. Fill a niche market and you'll have an audience.
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  #12  
Old 31-01-2006, 06:55 PM
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As Terry said, maybe because we're predominantly and "older" (bite you tongue Terry ) audience. I certainly have no idea about podcasting. It would be great though if you captured a much younger audience and encouraged the next generation. Being a teacher everytime I turn around there are young people with iPod type things plugged into their ears. There's the audience to aim for. Besides what you put out has got to be better than some of the garbage that gets classed as music these days.
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Old 31-01-2006, 06:58 PM
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Spot on mojo and Paul.
I just listened to my first one while I was browsing the forum here.
It was playing in the background.

It's a great idea, I say go for it.
Make them longish >10 minutes and get specific with the subject matter.

Good luck
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Old 31-01-2006, 07:33 PM
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Hi RussellH, I did not see your original post as I was away at Lostock (as were a lot of others!). I have been listening to astro podcasts for a while - I found the best one is Slacker Astronomy with Universe Today a close second. I also enjoy listening to the ABC Radio National Science Show - it is always interesting though only now and again are there astronomy stories.

When I started out I listened to a few podcasts - one of the first ones was a Northern Hemisphere based observing program (you know, what is up at the moment) - I don't remember which one it was but the production quality was very bad and the presenter was, well, there's no kind way to say this, really boring.

I'd say go for it, try it out - but keep the production values high, make it interesting and people will listen. As far as making an astronomy podcast "for the masses" I'm not sure how successful you will be. I think an audio talk on astronomy will only ever appeal to an audience who is already interested in astronomy - to interest the "masses" you really need to appeal to the visual sense.

Just my opinion - Good Luck.
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Old 31-01-2006, 11:20 PM
RussellH
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Thanks for the feedback guys, I knew you were all out there somewhere

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitchhiker
When I started out I listened to a few podcasts - one of the first ones was a Northern Hemisphere based observing program (you know, what is up at the moment) - I don't remember which one it was but the production quality was very bad and the presenter was, well, there's no kind way to say this, really boring.
I bet that was Regulus. It was the first astro one I listened to as well, and what gave me the incentive to do one. I thought "good grief, I can do better than this!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitchhiker
As far as making an astronomy podcast "for the masses" I'm not sure how successful you will be. I think an audio talk on astronomy will only ever appeal to an audience who is already interested in astronomy - to interest the "masses" you really need to appeal to the visual sense.
Well, one of my other incentives was my 4 and 6 year old boys. They get excited about space, but get bored just as easily. So it's more to try and get those interested in astronomy, to listen to something I hope they enjoy, which encourages them to follow up and get further into it themselves. Plus, I'm no expert myself, so you won't hear me chatting idly about string theory, particle physics or any other esoteric terms.

I originally thought of doing 3 separate podcasts.

1. Just news
2. Just web site & software reviews
3. Just 'teach-yourself-astronomy' type beginner info

The 3rd I've decided a podcast is probably not the best format for, and I've kind of focussed on the first, with the second rolled in for 'colour'. Sort of like the news/current affairs hour we see on TV each night - you know - HEADLINES: NASA SCORES TOUCHDOWN WITH STARDUST! followed by "How to lose 16Kg while observing a solar eclipse" or something to that effect.

I'll keep working on my ideas. I have no idea how much it'll suck, so I expect everyone to be honest when I release stuff, instead of letting me waffle on for months for no benefit.

Thanks again for the comments.

Russell.
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  #16  
Old 31-01-2006, 11:41 PM
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Hi Russell
good on you mate, I am all for this.
Myself I would go for a news type segment with Todays Space and Astro news.
I would download something like that and listen to it on my Ipod/car stereo !
Say a 5 to 10 minute segment !
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Old 01-02-2006, 09:03 AM
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iceman (Mike)
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Hi Russell.

Sorry I missed this post while I was at Lostock too.

I think it's a great idea, and if you're a good, clear speaker with a science/astronomy interest i'm sure you can make it work.

In fact, if you're interested, i'm happy to work with you to promote and/or host it through IceInSpace. I think it would be a valuable addition to the site. I don't expect bandwidth and/or disk space would be a concern.

As for the subject matter, that's a tough one.. It needs to be appealing to the masses so you don't just get an audience of 5-10 people, but it needs to be specific enough to target some topics and delve deeper.

The science/astronomy chat shows on commercial and/or ABC radio are usually very popular, especially the Fred Watson show on the ABC. Something like that would be a great podcast, but without simply regurgitating what he has said - plus, his show is already available as a podcast/download from the ABC site.

Maybe some shows could target equipment related issues, or how to get into astrophotography etc. You could have guest speakers from here on the forum, that are experienced in a particular field and interview them.

Anyway just a few thoughts.

Let me know if you want to work together in this.
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Old 01-02-2006, 08:31 PM
RussellH
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Thanks for the reply and the offer Mike, I'll keep them in mind. I think you might be surprised at the bandwidth usage, especially for popular podcasts (not that I expect mine to be in the big leagues). Ones like TWiT use over a terabyte of bandwidth a month.

I'll have to find the ABC one - I tried listening to one ABC science show podcast, and it was stuffy as, and I haven't tried anymore since.

To do equipment & specialist topics would be nice, but I'd have to rely on others to help, as I don't have to resources to do those myself, as I'm on a shoestring budget, and need to look for things like a decent mic and eventually a mixer, to get the best sound and production quality.

If the weather stays cooler this weekend (and wife & kids permitting), I might try and get a sample podcast up on my site for folks to listen to and provide feedback. I'll post a link if I get it done.

Russell.
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Old 08-02-2006, 10:23 PM
RussellH
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Just an update - you know that wife & kids thing, well - they won.

Looks like next weekend will be the target, as I'm flat out at work this week, but at least I can agonize over the name for a bit longer...

Also, it's down the track a bit, but if anyone specialises in a particular area (such as astrophotography) and is willing to be interviewed, send me your name and email address, and I'll be in touch.

Thanks. Russell.
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  #20  
Old 12-02-2006, 11:18 PM
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Alrighty,

Well, the rss feed isn't working for some reason, but you can go listen to my podcast preview at http://astronomy.podcastformat.com

I'd appreciate feedback.

Russell.
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