What's the Latest Development?
We are living through an exponential curve of increasing telescope size and huge ultra-sensitive detectors. And, much more importantly, vast amounts of observational data are being harvested, archived and shared at a much faster rate. Thanks to the “democratization” of space via huge publically accessible astronomical databases, amateur astronomers are becoming more heavily involved than ever.
What's the Big Idea?
The consequences are that we are on the cusp of a knowledge explosion in astronomy where discoveries will be expanding at an unprecedented rate across to globe. A “virtual universe” via globally interconnected online databases is already under development by a consortium of federal science agencies and universities. Nations around the world are following suit under the collective banner of the Virtual Observatory. "A true golden age of astronomy is dawning thanks to a convergence of data mining and communications technologies, not to mention computer designed and operated telescopes."