Today I spent all my research time on details in preparation for Gaia DR2, which happens on Wednesday. Unfortunately, my preparation wasn't exactly research: I was working on building access, catering details, room arrangement, invitations, and encouragement. We have some forty people (not all of them astronomers) converging on Flatiron to work together on the new data.
One thing has become absolutely clear over the last few weeks, in part because of hard things some people have said to me, about themselves and about others and about perceptions: Our goal this week is to have fun. And learn. It isn't to be first on things. It is to learn things we couldn't have known before. The idea is to cooperate, to share, and to support the global Gaia community. I think we have been doing that for years now (I sure hope we have), but it is worth re-stating daily, especially when there is a lot of anticipation and excitement and, frankly, anxiety, about the upcoming data release.
Here's to 1.6 BILLION stars. In less than 36 hours.