2012: a memorable year at the Virtual Telescope

Geographical distribution of our visitors from 1 Sept. to 31 Dec. 2012

Geographical distribution of our visitors from 1 Sept. to 31 Dec. 2012

Every time the year ends, it is very natural to look back and try to summarize what happened those last 12 months. At the Virtual Telescope we have been doing this too, so even now I would be pleased to share some quick considerations with you, as you ARE what make the Virtual Telescope a worldwide success.

I will never stop saying that when all this started in 2006 I could not imagine what was going to happen in the future. In a few years, the Virtual Telescope gained a solid, planetary reputation, actually inventing an original format for doing science communication and outreach through the web.

Several technological choices, as well has the strong experience in both astrophysical research and science communication showed to be very important factors for this success. But above all, it was an endless love for the Cosmos to make the difference, something able to connect with other lovers of the Universe out there. Needless to say, the Virtual Telescope is a very demanding project: I cannot count how many hundreds of days and nights I have been tirelessly working to make a step further, to bring more fun and knowledge to the world through our system, easily. Assuming that the Virtual Telescope has no financial support from any institution, you can better understand how huge the effort was and is. For this, we are so grateful to our technological sponsors.

But all of you have been supporting us so strongly, with your friendship and appreciation. The most beautiful joys I had from this project are those human treasures. One more reason to be grateful to the stars.

The 2012 was for the Virtual Telescope a truly exceptional year: the greatest one in our history. We hosted tens of international events (both online and local), reaching an unbelievable number of individuals. In Sept. we launched our new website,  we tried to make it very simple to surf and the feedback from our visitors was amazing.

Just to give you an idea of what happened at the Virtual Telescope in 2012, we wish to remember the 4th edition of the Online Messier Marathon (offered during Global Astronomy Month 2012), the 15th anniversary since the 1997 Hale-Bopp show (with the extraordinary participation of the discoverers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp), the online, live observing sessions of the potentially hazardous asteroids 2012 QG42, 2012 TC4 and (4179) Toutatis. All these events recorded and unprecedented number of participants, making the year we just ended the most successful since we started in 2006. That said, it is confirmed that year after year the Virtual Telescope is growing at a very strong rate.

From 01 Jan. 2012 to 31 Dec. 2012, we hosted on our website 661.980 viewers from 204 Countries, served 2.903.682 pages and recorded more than 16 millions hits. With these official, reliable numbers, the Virtual Telescope qualifies as a true leader in the world in communication astronomy and the sharing the wonders of the real sky: no others can show these numbers. Our events were featured by the most important press agencies and portals of the world, with a very exciting, huge return.

In addition to public outreach activities, astrophysical research was incredibly fruitful last year. Thanks to the state-of-the-art technology hosted at the Virtual Telescope and our scientific experience, our robotic system, with its very short reaction time to astrophysical alerts, was able to discover the nature of 31 cataclysmic variable stars, some of them of peculiar nature and, since Jul. 2012, to confirmed more than 30 near-Earth objects, sometimes discovering cometary features in apparently asteroidal bodies.

We will do our best to make this brand new 2013 even a more incredible year, but for this we need you! Both of your friendly participation and your help: as the Virtual Telescope Project has not financial support, you are welcome to donate what you want, making possible for us to continue serving your love for the Cosmos, wherever you are on this beautiful planet.

Thank you so much for your continued consideration and best wishes to all for a cosmologically beautiful 2013!

Gianluca Masi
founder, the Virtual Telescope Project


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