Reader insights

Posted by Karri Ferron
on Tuesday, December 30, 2008

EuropaOver the past few months, I have been in charge of selecting the weekly poll we put up on the main page of, and it has given me some insight into our readers and those who visit our site. Here are five things I’ve learned so far:

1) Readers have high hopes for a jovian moon.

When asked where they thought we might find extraterrestrial microbial life, voters thought we’ll have the most luck on Europa (37.5 percent of the votes). Mars came in second (24 percent).

2) Carl Sagan is a big deal to readers (and to us).

He received a significant amount of the votes (44.5 percent) to win the title as our readers’ favorite astronomy popularizer.

3) Readers had their fingers crossed for a telescope this holiday season.

More than 55 percent of voters wanted a new telescope if they could only receive one piece of equipment as a gift this year. I hope they got what they wished for!

4) Readers thought 2008 was the year of Red Planet discoveries.

Mars Phoenix Lander uncovering water and organic molecules in martian soil was voters’ pick for top astronomy news story in the past year (44.5 percent of the votes).

5) A little cold weather won’t hinder readers’ observing time.

Although their winter-weather tolerance varies, a slim majority (28 percent of voters) won’t let any cold temperatures keep them from watching the sky (but snow and cloudy weather is a hindrance). Meanwhile, 24.5 percent have a cut off of 32°F (0°C) to say, “Maybe I’ll stick inside.” 

Do you have any poll ideas for You can post ideas below, and I’ll try to use them on our site in the coming weeks.

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