Eyes on the Skies

Winner of MEDEA Special Jury Award 2009

Winner of MEDEA Special Jury Award 2009

Eyes on the Skies consists of a 60-minute DVD and a 132-page, full-colour book, exploring the development of the telescope over the four centuries following Galileo's breakthrough, along with all the astronomical riches this instrument has revealed. The DVD gathers animations, simulations and stunning photographs, displaying the heavens revealed by astronomers while the film's host and narrator explain these unveiled cosmic answers, as well as pointing out areas of continuing mystery. Rounding out the Eyes on the Skies package is a sturdy, hardcover textbook that complements the film, creating a comprehensive educational experience.

The Showcase video of Eyes on the Skies, including an interview with Lars Lindberg Christensen

Eyes on the Skies, by telling the history of the telescope in astronomy, aims to offer a compelling perspective on how human knowledge of space and our place in it has been completely revolutionised in the last 400 years. The Universe is a vast, complex, mind-boggling realm; showing science's step-wise visual foray into the final frontier will help make astronomy much more accessible and "real" to students of most ages. The DVD runs for 60 minutes and contains subtitles in several languages. The Eyes on the Skies book is available in English, German, Finnish, Korean and Japanese. DVD and chapter excerpts, along with beautiful photographs are also freely available to the general public, teachers and students worldwide.

What the judges said of Eyes on the Skies:

“Science and astronomy are a difficult topic that the general public might not consider interesting at first, but Eyes on the Skies combines a well-produced book and a DVD that is in itself an inspiring, fascinating presentation that can capture the viewer.

This entry shows spot-on use of images in book and DVD on all dimensions of the telescope that can actually liven up lessons as a visual illustration for scientific history, facts and concepts that would otherwise seem boring or difficult. The DVD is a combination of a very strong and well-scripted educational narrative, excellent music and sound that convey the excitement of the subject, a presenter with overlays, animation, historical images and photos which makes it both pedagogically and aesthetically excellent.

This is a very well designed and attractive presentation of quite a challenging subject, but an excellent example of integrated educational narrative and complementary use of various media, cantered on a superb script. Authoritative without being confusing.”

About the creation of the entry

The Eyes on the Skies project from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) was commissioned to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy 2009, a global celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first use of the telescope to explore the cosmos by the Italian astronomer Galileo. The invention of the telescope has been by far the most revolutionary development in the history of astronomy. For thousands of years, astronomers had to rely on their eyes in unravelling the mysteries of the Universe. The telescope revealed an embarrassment of astronomical riches, and led to a dramatic increase of knowledge about the wider world we live in. The Eyes on the Skies DVD movie and accompanying book explore the many facets of the telescope - the historical development, the scientific importance, the technological breakthroughs, and also the people behind this ground-breaking invention, their triumphs and failures...

Astronomy is a visual science, so a history of its primary instrument of observation obviously lends itself to a visual format. To augment the imagery and graphical splendour of the DVD, Eyes on the Skies also has a book to "text out" the film's contents, covering both visual- and reading-based forms of learning. The dual movie/book format of Eyes on the Skies makes it an excellent pedagogical tool in classrooms. High international demand has ensured that tens of thousands of copies of the book and more than 300,000 copies of the movie have been distributed worldwide. As part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, which has promoted astronomy education globally, Eyes on the Skies has been well-integrated into lesson plans by science teachers in diverse settings.

The Eyes on the Skies movie is presented by Dr. J aka Dr. Joe Liske from European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the authors are Govert Schilling (Alles over Sterrenkunde, the Netherlands) and Lars Lindberg Christensen (European Space Agency (ESA)/ESO, Germany), who strive to contribute to the popularisation of science and technology. The latter represented ESO during the Awards Ceremony in Berlin on 4 December 2009.

About Lars Lindberg Christensen

Lars Lindberg Christensen

Lars Lindberg Christensen

Lars Lindberg Christensen obtained his Master’s Degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Before assuming his current position, he spent a decade working as a science communicator and technical specialist for Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen. He is currently a science communication specialist heading the ESO education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) in Munich, Germany. Lars is responsible for public outreach and education for the La Silla-Paranal Observatory, for ESO's part of ALMA (the largest and most expensive ground-based astronomical project currently under construction). He is also reponsible for the European Extremely Large Telescope (the largest optical telescope in planning) and for ESA’s part of the Hubble Space Telescope. Lars is Press Officer for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and manager of the IAU International Year of Astronomy 2009 Secretariat. He is also founding member and vice-president of the IAU Commission 55 Communicating Astronomy with the Public and executive editor of its peer-reviewed journal. Furthermore Lars holds the positions of manager of the ESA/ESO/NASA Photoshop FITS Liberator project and Executive producer and director of the science documentary movies of not only Eyes on the Skies – 400 Years of Telescopic Discoveries but also Hubble – 15 Years of Discovery.

Lars has more than 100 publications to his credit, most of them in popular science communication and in its theory, and books such as The Hands-On Guide to Science Communicators (Springer, 2006), Hidden Universe (Springer, 2008). In 2005, he received the Tycho Brahe Medal as the youngest recipient so far for his achievements in science communication.

Lars, representing Eyes on the Skies and ESO, received a MEDEA medal and prizes including a MicroTrack II mobile digital recorder (sponsored by AVID), an Adobe Production Premium Creative Suite 4 Licence (sponsored by Adobe Systems) and a Berlin book prize.

Project website

http://www.eyesontheskies.org and trailer