The Royal Observatory (ROG) has won an international award for its Solar Stormwatch website, www.solarstormwatch.com.
The website picked up the award in the Innovative or Experimental category at the 2010 Best of the Web Awards, presented at the international Museums and the Web conference
held in Denver, USA late last week.
Solar Stormwatch was built in-house by the ROG's Digital Media team working in close collaboration with The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and Galaxy Zoo
(Oxford University). It provides tools and tutorials that actively
encourage the general public to help scientists analyse data from
NASA's STEREO mission, which was launched in 2006 to conduct 3D studies
of the Sun.
The principal aim of the website and resulting research is to help
spot and track solar storms across space and to create a user-generated
space weather forecast. Best of the Web judges commented that the
Museum's Solar Stormwatch made 'excellent use of crowd-sourcing to
advance scientific discovery' and that it not only connects users,
but engages them to do something of real value.
Solar Stormwatch is the latest in the line of solar
science research projects to come out of the Royal Observatory,
stretching back to the very first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed
(1646-1719). Flamsteed set up a solar observatory at Greenwich and his
observations were later studied by Royal Observatory employee Edward Walter
Maunder (1851-1928), who showed that there had been an exceptionally
low occurrence of sunspots between 1645 and 1715, a period now known as
the Maunder Minimum.
Museums and the Web is an annual conference usually
staged in the US and attracting over 400 delegates from 20 or more
countries. The conference is recognised across the cultural sector as
the pre-eminent forum for the discussion, debate and presentation of
the latest ideas and research from cultural institutions using the web.
The Best of the Web awards have been presented at the conference
since 1997, and are awarded in recognition of outstanding
achievement in heritage website design, research and delivery. This
year, 87 sites were nominated from a range of cultural heritage
institutions worldwide. A full listing of this year's Best of the Web winners is available at http://conference.archimuse.com/forum/congratulations_mw2010_best_web_winners.