[Spitzer News] NASA Unveils Cosmic Images Book in Braille for Blind Readers

spitzer-news at lists.ipac.caltech.edu spitzer-news at lists.ipac.caltech.edu
Tue Jan 15 07:25:00 PST 2008

In this issue:

1) NASA Unveils Cosmic Images Book in Braille for Blind Readers
2) Spitzer News from AAS



At a ceremony held today at the National Federation of the Blind,  
NASA unveiled a new book that brings majestic images taken by its  
Great Observatories to the fingertips of the blind. The Great  
Observatories include NASA's Hubble, Chandra and Spitzer space  

"Touch the Invisible Sky" is a 60-page book with color images of  
nebulae, stars, galaxies and some of the telescopes that captured the  
original pictures. Each image is embossed with lines, bumps and other  
textures. These raised patterns translate colors, shapes and other  
intricate details of the cosmic objects, allowing visually impaired  
people to experience them. Braille and large-print descriptions  
accompany each of the book's 28 photographs, making the book's design  
accessible to readers of all visual abilities.

The book contains spectacular images from the Great Observatories and  
powerful ground-based telescopes. The celestial objects are presented  
as they appear through visible-light telescopes and different  
spectral regions invisible to the naked eye, from radio to infrared,  
visible, ultraviolet and X-ray light.

The book introduces the concept of light and the spectrum and  
explains how the different observatories complement each others'  
findings. Readers take a cosmic journey beginning with images of the  
sun, and travel out into the galaxy to visit relics of exploding and  
dying stars, as well as the Whirlpool galaxy and colliding Antennae  

"Touch the Invisible Sky" was written by astronomy educator and  
accessibility specialist Noreen Grice of You Can Do Astronomy LLC and  
the Museum of Science, Boston, with authors Simon Steel, an  
astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in  
Cambridge, Mass., and Doris Daou, an astronomer at NASA Headquarters,  

"About 10 million visually impaired people live in the United  
States," Grice said. "I hope this book will be a unique resource for  
people who are sighted or blind to better understand the part of the  
universe that is invisible to all of us."

The book will be available to the public through a wide variety of  
sources, including the National Federation of the Blind, Library of  
Congress repositories, schools for the blind, libraries, museums,  
science centers and Ozone Publishing.

"We wanted to show that the beauty and complexity of the universe  
goes far beyond what we can see with our eyes!" Daou said.

"The study of the universe is a detective story, a cosmic 'CSI,'  
where clues to the inner workings of the universe are revealed by the  
amazing technology of modern telescopes," Steel said. "This book  
invites everyone to join in the quest to unlock the secrets of the  

"One of the greatest challenges faced by blind students who are  
interested in scientific study is that certain kinds of information  
are not available to them in a non-visual form," said Marc Maurer,  
president of the National Federation of the Blind. "Books like this  
one are an invaluable resource because they allow the blind access to  
information that is normally presented through visual observation and  
media. Given access to this information, blind students can study and  
compete in scientific fields as well as their sighted peers."

The prototype for this book was funded by an education grant from the  
Chandra mission, and production was a collaborative effort by the  
NASA space science missions, which provide the images, and other  
agency sources.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the  
Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission  
Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the  
Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology,  
also in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.




Spitzer-related news from the 211th meeting of the American  
Astronomical Society (Winter 2008), which took place January 7 -  
January 11, 2008 in Austin, TX, can be found at the Spitzer AAS news  
page. The page contains Spitzer-related news from the conference, and  
includes an archive of news from past conferences.



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