Astronomía made in Spain - English version

 

A Spanish Astronomical Society (SEA) Contribution to the International Year of Astronomy 2009

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The Spanish astronomical community has progressed from a minute presence in Spanish science to produce today about seven percent of the total number of papers on astronomy published in the entire world. This has been achieved in a remarkably short period of 30 years. However, the vitality of a science cannot be measured only by the number of papers it produces but also by their impact on the work of the international community and on the society that supports that research.

With this project, part of the collection of activities of the Spanish Node of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, SEA intended to bring the work done by Spanish professional astronomers to a wide-ranging audience. The importance of this project resides in the “Made in Spain”: we do not disseminate the astronomy done by others but that managed by the Spanish government and funded with public money. This project is designed to bring together professional astronomy and society.

  

The book Astronomía made in Spain and its English edition.

 

The project materialized in 2009 with the editing and publication in paperback of a book, in Spanish, entitled Astronomía made in Spain, where we collected the answers to six questions sent to all the Spanish astronomers who had published a paper as first authors in Nature or Science in the preceding 30 years. These two journals were awarded the 2007 Prince of Asturias Prize for Communication and Humanities, and are the highest-impact journals in basic science, read by a wide spectrum of people not necessarily limited to science professionals.

Each author describes in his or her contribution the context in which the research was carried out, what was new with respect to the knowledge in that field at that moment, some personal views on the subsequent trajectory of the researcher, and even some anecdotes about the paper’s elaboration. The contributions are presented in chronological order according to the publication date of the papers, thereby giving a historical perspective of the way in which the different branches of each scientific article have evolved.

We the editors took great care in compiling the papers, which was not an easy task at all. In fact, when the first Spanish edition came out, we realized that two papers were missing. This was corrected in the second, 2010 edition, published in electronic format, which expands on the first edition with contributions from authors who published papers in 2009. In order to spread the work done by Spanish astronomers to a wider community, the book has been translated into English, and it is accessible from this page.

It is always stimulating to read about a historical event when described by a person who was there. It is the same in science. There is nothing better than letting those people who made a milestone discovery in their fields describre first-hand how they managed to achieve it.

 

Benjamin Montesinos (bmm@cab.inta-csic.es), Emilio Alfaro (emilio@iaa.es)