Plans for AstroAssembly 2012 (September 28 & 29th) are really coming together. The theme this year is “Citizen Science and Astronomy“. Our program will feature several speakers.
We will be bringing back the Astrophoto Competition and the unique Astro Bake-off, in which participants present clever astronomy-related edible treats. The banquet on Saturday night promises to be another delicious meal and time to connect with old friends.
We also invite you to become part of the AstroAssembly team, helping in some way with the activities involved in this annual 2-day event. We are also looking for member donations to be included in our raffle and speakers for our Friday Night talks.
Contact Kathy Siok (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information – to get a ticket, to volunteer in some way, or to donate an item.
Star Analyzer - Low Resolution Spectroscopy
Bigger Really Can Be Better:A Visit to Mount Wilson
Restoring an 1871 4" Clark Refractor
All day Saturday: H-alpha Solar observing, Swap Table, Vendor, Astro Raffle, Astro Bake-Off, Astrophotography contest.
Join Ed Turco, long-time Skyscrapers member and master telescope maker, to remember the ‘good old days’ of amateur astronomy. Ed will have his telescopes and all sorts of goodies to show how astronomy was done in the 60s, before the advent of electronic assistance.
Gerry Dyck, Skyscrapers member and AAVSO observer since 1978, will present a summary of the contribution which our namesake Frank E. Seagrave made to the AAVSO International Database. His talk will also mention the variable star observations of Skyscrapers founder, Prof. Charles Smiley.
Citizen Scientists volunteer their time, helping scientists to advance scientific research by collecting & analyzing data, observing the natural world, solving puzzles, and testing natural phenomena. I will introduce the origin of the Zooniverse, one of the internet's most popular Citizen Science projects, and discuss many of the ways in which the public is contributing to scientific research today.
Planet Hunters (http://www.planethunters.org), part of the Zooniverse (http://www.zooniverse.org) collection of citizen science projects, enlists the general public to visually identify the signatures of transiting extrasolar planets (exoplanets) via the World Wide Web. When a planet moves in front of its host star, or transits, it blocks a small portion of the star's light. Although the drop in starlight is small, it is detectable by NASA's Kepler spacecraft. A Jupiter sized planet will block 1% of the star's light for Sun-like stars, and the transit depth is 0.1% for Earth-sized planets around Sun-like stars. Kepler is monitoring ~160,000 stars nearly continuously for transiting exoplanets. The Kepler team has automated routines searching the light curves for transits, which have found an impressive number of exoplanet candidates. Currently over 2000 known planet candidates have been found by the Kepler team.
But the Kepler light curves are complex, with many exhibiting significant structure. It is difficult to characterize such variability and therefore an automated search algorithm looking for a periodic signal may miss a transit signal dominated by the natural variability of the star. The human brain is a superb pattern recognition device and with minimal training can often outperform the most sophisticated machine learning devices. The human eye is well suited to picking out most transits that may be missed by the automated search algorithms. It is unrealistic to expect a single individual or a small group of experts to review the entire Kepler dataset, but with over 170,000 volunteers examining the light curves on the Planet Hunters interface, we have the ability to visually inspect the entire public dataset for signatures of exoplanet transits. I will present the project and talk about the science highlights and discoveries made by the citizen scientists from Planet Hunters.
I will introduce the Galaxy Zoo Citizen Science project and discuss some new discoveries being made through collaborations with Citizen Scientists. In particular, I will introduce the "Green Peas", a class of galaxies unknown until volunteers in the Galaxy Zoo project noted their peculiar bright green color and small size. These galaxies provide unique insights to astronomers into how stars (and galaxies) grew in the early universe.
To be held at North Scituate Community Center.
While there are many types of stars that change brightness, only the most extreme of these will experience many magnitudes of variation over short periods of time. Several of these extreme objects are phenomena related to dying or dead stars, including the three to be discussed in this talk: gamma-ray bursts, supernovae and cataclysmic variables. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most powerful stellar explosions in the universe, each one likely signaling the formation of a new black hole in a distant galaxy. Supernovae mark the death of massive stars via core collapse, a process that in some cases also lead to a GRB. Cataclysmic variables (CVs) are binary star systems in which a dead star (a white dwarf or neutron star) accretes material from its living companion, resulting in outbursts of hydrogen fusion. Understanding these objects depends on observing and analyzing their light curves – their brightness over time. Because these objects experience great changes in brightness, they are ideal objects to engage citizen scientists. In fact, citizen scientists have already made significant contributions to these fields and will continue to do so in the era of “big data.” Citizen scientists can easily become engaged in this science via publicly available data and event alerts and through initiatives such as the Zooniverse and the American Association of Variable Star Observers.