2017 is already shaping up to be an interesting year. Things may be tumultuous on planet Earth but as far as your night sky is concerned, things are right where they're supposed to be. The Moon will be getting in the way of the Sun for the briefest of moments on 21st August. This total solar eclipse will be well worth chasing and if any of you have the means of getting to the USA for this one I'd highly encourage you to go! NASA has a handy tool that will allow you to see where you'll need to be to make the most of it:
On a more personal note, I'm coming to the end of my PhD and will be very busy over the coming months. My new years resolutions included: cutting back to (only) 3 cups of coffee a day, eating less junk food and restarting this blog. For those of you who have registered on our forums (head to the 'join in' tab) you'll have seen an update there which sums up where the Starsight project is currently. I'll repeat a couple of the key points here now.
First, we're back in development mode after a hiatus due to funding/hardware/developer availability. The last of our earlier crowdfunder money (thank you all, you lovely people) has now been invested with the hope that we can get a new build out to you that will work with the latest Oculus headset and drivers. This is tricky given that funds are very limited at present. I've just had a shot of our developers latest effort and it's looking promising - there are one or two key tweaks required but we can hopefully get it to you soon. Our developer is away for the first half of February but will be back on the case before the end of the month. I'd also like to see support for the HTC Vive included though this depends on how well we do with the Oculus.
Second, with the new build comes new opportunities! The plan is to schedule regular monthly 'beginner's guide' style online shows to which Starsight users will be able to connect via the internet. As an added bonus this won't require you to have a VR headset if you'd like to take part. For this to truly work it will require some two-way feedback which will allow people to ask questions during the show. This may be just a chat window to begin with but I'm hoping to integrate something into Starsight that will allow a connected user to ask 'what am I looking at?'.
Third, we're in the process of applying for more funding and have made it to the second round for an STFC Public Engagement Large Project Award. This is very welcome news and I'll keep you posted as to how we get on in the next stage. In the meantime, if any of you are super keen, or sad you missed the earlier crowdfunder, you can also donate to the Starsight project via the ROE Trust. Any money raised in this way will go straight into the software development budget. The Starsight project is operating on a not-for-profit basis and we hope to keep it this way for the foreseeable future. All donations are thus gratefully received!