Astronomy with an online telescope
Astronomy with an online telescope

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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
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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.
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