Astronomical Trivia

# Astronomical Trivia

I'm currently very busy with different things in parallel, it seems uncertain when I would finish each of them. I've done a review in the last days about all of them as a frame to a talk this evening at Agrupación Astronómica de Madrid (AAM), the main astronomical amateur group in Madrid. The talk is about a tool to simulate astronomical events as they would be visible through a given kind of telescope, to prepare observations (in the science section there is a link to this presentation, in Spanish). This tool is currently limited to fellows at AAM, but could be opened to general public in a near future. Among others, I will talk about the recent esthetic upgrade to the ephemerides server, the project to create an automated observatory (more on this not before the end of the summer…), the Android planetarium (current beta available at the main JPARSEC page is quite good already, although with some bugs), and different minor things done during the years. Most, if not all of them, have been documented more or less in this blog or other pages (projects page for instance), but for one of them there is nothing about it here: the astronomical trivia.

I created a little astronomical trivia for a talk last november in the frame of the Semana de la Ciencia in Madrid, which is a two week event with lots of scientific talks about many different areas organized between many institutes in Madrid. As an experiment, I decided to do this little trivia game to let the public enjoy the 20 minutes of time before starting, when the people is still coming. I wanted to see if this thing could be or not attractive to give some fun to the people waiting, and also to prepare their minds with questions related to the talk.

The result was indeed quite positive. I saw all kind of faces, from people knowing everything to others showing just the opposite very clearly, and others simply laughing. Of course, there is always someone that just didn't notice at all that a trivia game was in the screen…

The program is available for downloading at this url. It should work on all operating systems (with Java installed), and in fact includes a .sh file to run it on Linux and Mac, and a .bat for Windows. A text file is used to configure everything (including the background images and the questions themselves) using a strict or rigid format, but anyway quite clear I think. The trivia contains 40 questions translated both to Spanish and to English, with different difficulty levels. Since it is fully customizable, you can replace everything to create a trivia game about any other scientific field. Windows requires a special file to account for the different carriage return character in this system, so in case you use it be careful which file you modify and in which system.

I plan to add something similar to the Android planetarium…

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