Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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Sydney Observatory and astrometry bots

February 22nd, 2009 by Seb Chan

Over at the Sydney Observatory blog you can read about our astronomy curator’s experiments with the ‘astrotagging bot’ behind the Astrometry project and group on Flickr.

Today 20 February 2009 (Sydney time) the above image and five others were posted on the image sharing website Flickr here. Within a few minutes astrometry.net found the image and analysed it to provide full details such as the astronomical coordinates of the image centre, its scale, its orientation and marked the main objects visible on the image.

About the Astronometry project

The removal of astrometry as a barrier to using legacy and badly archived (or not archived) data will greatly extend astronomical time baselines into the past, and greatly increase time sampling for sources all over the sky. It facilitates work with distributed, heterogeneous data sets. It also provides a channel for professional and amateur astronomers to collaborate, as the installation of correct WCS makes currently hard-to-access amateur imaging data interoperable with professional projects.

It is a quite amazing use of citizen-contributed data (via photographs of the night sky) to hard science. The use of Flickr as a data source is quite magical – read the interview with Christopher Stumm from the Astrometry project.

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