Examining perceptions of astronomy images across mobile platforms

Lisa F. Smith, Kimberly K. Arcand, Jeffrey K. Smith, Randall K. Smith, Jay Bookbinder, Megan Watzke (JCOM)

Modern society has led many people to become consumers of data unlike previous generations. How this shift in the way information is communicated and received — including in areas of science — and affects perception and comprehension is still an open question. This study examined one aspect of this digital age: perceptions of astronomical images and their labels, on mobile platforms. Participants were n = 2183 respondents to an online survey, and two focus groups (n = 12 astrophysicists; n = 11 lay public). Online participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 12 images, and compared two label formats. Focus groups compared mobile devices and label formats. Results indicated that the size and quality of the images on the mobile devices affected label comprehension and engagement. The question label format was significantly preferred to the fun fact. Results are discussed in terms of effective science communication using technology.

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