Airports of the World

I've been busy in astronomy-land recently, trying to make some headway on my thesis before beginning a summer internship (more on both hopefully in the coming months!) For this site, recently I've been playing with some interesting data, trying to find the "story" - which is really a way of saying I haven't found the truly clever question yet. Lots of pretty/interesting visualizations have been made, however.

In the meantime, I thought the following map was pretty incredible. I present:
The World, Traced by Airport Runways.

This was generated using 45,132 runways (awesome data from here). Think about that number for a moment: there are at least 45,000 places to land an airplane! These range from small dirt fields to LAX, and the data seems to be more complete in the USA. Still, runways on every continent, seemingly every country.


Update: You can now purchase a poster version of this map. Neat!
Airports of the World Poster
Airports of the World Poster by IfWeAssume
View custom art Posters & Prints at online Zazzle

What's Trending in Astronomy - #aas222

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This week the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is having their biannual meeting. You can follow along with tons of great tweets from many astronomers at the meeting by following #aas222.
Even when I'm not able to go, I still enjoy looking through the meeting's abstract book to get a sense for what's being discussed. If you don't want to parse ~100 pages of abstracts, check out this word cloud I made using every talk and poster abstract:

This visualization is a little silly, but it does give you a sense for what people are talking about this week. Lots of big name telescopes can be found in the 'cloud (like Kepler and Hubble), and abbreviations for the states that are home to many of astronomers (AZ, CA, MA). I'm happy to see "stars" as one of the biggest science words, and cool to see WIYN getting lots of love (which makes sense given the meeting's location, and ODI being online).

I made one of these word clouds for AAS 221 as well,  though I might have pre-whitened it by removing (e.g.) United, States, and University. I can't recall. Comparing these two word clouds, however, has given me an idea I'd like to pursue: using the word frequency of paper (or meeting) abstracts to track the popularity of astronomical topics/sub-disciplines over time.

I realized as soon as I hit publish that the IAU Symposium #299 is going on at the same time as AAS 222, which is one reason there are so few uses of "planet" in the original word cloud. Here for comparison is the word cloud generated from the IAUS299 meeting program. Here's where all those planet folks are hiding this week!