Public Domain

Project of the Week 21: Astronomy Translation Network

Science is a worldwide phenomenon, but how accessible is it to people whose main language is not one which commonly appears in science, like English? This week we visit an organisation based in Japan which wants to open up the friendly field of astronomy to speakers of many languages: the Astronomy Translation Network.

What does this project do?
As they say simply, "Bring more astronomy into your language." They are seeking translators and astronomy texts of many different types.

What do I have to do?
Go to "Join", and fill out a Google form about yourself. You'll not only be asked the obvious, such as your name and language and type of work, but also about what type of astronomy that interests you: for example, galaxies, our sun, planets, astrobiology. You'll be asked to consider whether you want to translate, proofread or fact-check, and what types of texts you would like to tackle - articles, journals, comics, etc.

You will soon get an email from them asking more about what you would like to do ... and after that, what happens depends on your interests!

Where can I find out more?
Mostly their website, also the International Astronomical Union's Outreach Twitter feed.

What’s the Citizen Science Project of the Week?
Citizen Science Project of the Week is a regular Monday feature at Doing It Together Science. What project would you like to see featured? Please let us know on the contact form, Facebook page or email us at Please put "Project of the Week" in the subject line and send us a link to the project, some information about it and why you'd like it featured. If you want us to, we'll credit you and tag you on Facebook!

More details
The Astronomy Translation Network is based in Japan, a partnership of several organisations and run by Yukiko Shibata. They're in the test phase at the moment. This is a complicated and important phase, with timings planned intricately (scroll down their "About" page to see these timings and the many tasks to consider!). They started by putting out a call for volunteers. But it's not a matter of translating from one language into another, but from lots of languages into lots more. So there is a post created called "Language Coordinator" and there are several of such people, dealing with various languages.

There are also many tasks to take into account when translating - not just putting a document into another language, but proofreading, fact-checking it, and of course then the translated version of the document needs to be disseminated! So they also have to take some time to choose the best pieces of writing to translate. They are planning to launch their platform in August this year, and after 3 months collect any more recommendations and make any necessary changes. However, translation is already happening, particularly with the help of lots of students in various countries.

Their eventual plan is something like this: An astronomy project might send them some material in language A, and might ask for it in language B (or several). The project manager would decide whether or not this is a good text. If it is, they will send it to the Language Coordinator, who will choose a Translator. This Translator would translate it and upload it back where the Language Coordinator would find it. It would then be checked by a Proofreader and by a Scientific Reviewer (the latter would fact-check it for any scientific errors). After these people have both approved the new document, the Language Coordinator would publish it, and everyone involved would give and receive feedback on the quality of the translation, the time it took and the ease, etc. They are also developing a certification system.

The Citizen Science Translation Hub would like to thank the Astronomy Translation Network for being an inspiration and also for kindly Skyping with us to give us advice and suggestions. We are a couple of years behind them, but both of our organisations want to learn from each other's experiences, and we share the same passion to make science and citizen science available to more people, and to create a thriving, happy community of people learning, teaching, sharing and creating.