Visual analytics experts realize that one effective way to push the field forward and to develop metrics for measuring the performance of various visual analytics components is to hold an annual competition. The VAST 2008 Challenge is the third year that such a competition was held in conjunction with the IEEE Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST) symposium. The authors restructured the contest format used in 2006 and 2007 to reduce the barriers to participation and offered four minichallenges and a Grand Challenge. Mini Challenge participants were to use visual analytic tools to explore one of four heterogeneous data collections to analyze specific activities of a fictitious, controversial movement. Questions asked in the Grand Challenge required the participants to synthesize data from all four data sets. In this paper we give a brief overview of the data sets, the tasks, the participation, the judging, and the results.