Astronomy with an online telescope
Astronomy with an online telescope

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Astronomy with an online telescope

3 Building the light curve

Having made your aperture photometry measurements and added them to the light curve you have now completed your first variable star observations. .

In this video, Jo explains how your results will be combined with observations made by others to build up the whole light curve.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_aot_1_video_week8_3_light-curves.mp4
Skip transcript


So the data points that you've been collecting might not look like much on their own. But when you put your data together with that of all the other people doing this course, we can start to build up something very special. You're now a citizen scientist. Whether you realise it or not, your data, when combined with many, many other citizen scientists, will help professional scientists push their work forward.
We know that there are a huge number of stars out there that must be varying in their magnitude, but we don't know by how much and over what period of time. So as you slowly add to your data points, we can start to fill in those light curves. We can start to build up that pattern to study the magnitude change and to study the period of time over which that change happens.
The contributions that you are making to science is increasingly being known as citizen science or collaborative science. The contribution that any one individual can make is small, but extremely significant when combined with the contribution of many others. So you can see now that though each individual data point didn't show us much, combined with many hundreds of other data points from fellow scientists working on this project, we can build up an entire light curve. And this is true of all citizen science projects.
So if you've enjoyed taking part in this citizen science experiment, you can, of course, add more to this. But why not add to the many other citizen science projects that are out there? If you have a look at the Zooniverse platform, for example, you'll find many, many projects on there in all areas of science and beyond. So you, as a citizen scientist working with many, many others, can contribute to the work of professionals doing real science and making real contributions.
End transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371