Second Citizen Sky Workshop and ASV Talk

From September 2nd to 5th I participated in the second Citizen Sky workshop in San Francisco, attended by a mix of professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, and Science educators. The event was held at the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Golden Gate Park.

On the way back home I gave a talk about Citizen Sky and VStar to the Astronomical Society of Victoria as part of the yearly ASSA/ASV speaker exchange. I was made to feel welcome by members of the ASV, some of whom took me out to dinner prior to the meeting. I appreciated the opportunity to give this talk, which seems to have been been well received.

The San Francisco workshop was packed with sessions but we had two hour lunch breaks encouraging lots of interaction between participants.

I gave two talks: a practical VStar session and a summary of the VStar Team’s activities. The team gained a few new members during the workshop. See the VStar Team page for more details.

There was plenty of interest and discussion regarding VStar throughout the workshop with a couple of professional astronomers and a new data analysis group (formed during the workshop) planning to make use of the tool for specific projects.

Some Citizen Sky participants adopting the VStar pose after the last session (courtesy Joan Chamberlin, pictured 2nd from left next to the author).

Some Citizen Sky participants adopting the VStar Pose after the last session. Courtesy Joan Chamberlin, pictured to the left of the author.

Use of VStar by a participant with a European locale revealed an important class of bugs that needs to be fixed relating to numeric input when VStar is used on machines configured with non-English locales. It’s something I knew I had to address, but being presented with it by a user has raised its priority in the SourceForge tracker.

The workshop agenda was diverse and, apart from the sessions mentioned above, included topics such as:

  • Update on the status of the Epsilon Aurigae eclipse
  • Disks in astrophysical objects
  • Evolutionary status of the binary based upon recent measurements
  • Analysis of Epsilon Aurigae spectrum monitoring by a college (San Mateo) student team
  • Precision, accuracy, and uncertainty in data
  • Light curves of different types of variable stars
  • Basic and intermediate time series data analysis
  • Choosing topics for Scientific investigation
  • Scientific paper writing

All sessions were captured on video, and will be made available, along with the accompanying slides, on the Citizen Sky website.

One of the CAS roof-top garden domes.

One of the CAS roof-top garden domes.

Participants had the opportunity to see two shows in the CAS Morrison Planetarium, in addition to the premiere of the Citizen Sky planetarium trailer.

Morrison planetarium dome

Morrison Planetarium dome

I also had a bit of time to look around San Francisco and was fortunate to see the Golden Gate Bridge when it was clear of fog. Joan Chamberlin (leader of the Southern Gems Team) and I took a walk on the bridge and had wonderful views of the Bay.

David on the Golden Gate Bridge, September 2010

Author on the Golden Gate Bridge

Attendance at the second Citizen Sky workshop came after months of VStar development in my spare time. It was great to get together again with people I’d met at the first workshop in Chicago last year, as well as getting to know new people.

Dinner out after the last day of the workshop

Dinner out after the last day of the workshop

Other than catching up on sleep, there is still plenty of work remaining to further improve and extend VStar and to apply it to data analysis activities emerging from the second Citizen Sky workshop.

Apart from the palpable general sense of camaraderie, a participant named Bob Miller captured the spirit of those assembled at Citizen Sky via the debut of his song We are the stars, a video of which was played just before lunch on the second day of the workshop.

Bob Miller at Citizen Sky 2

Bob Miller at Citizen Sky 2

Other than catching up on sleep, there is still plenty of work remaining to further improve and extend VStar and to apply it to data analysis activities emerging from the second Citizen Sky workshop.

If you are in the least bit interested, I would suggest monitoring the Recent Posts section of the Citizen Sky site, and of course, feel free to ask me for more information.

I want to say a big thanks to Rebecca Turner, Aaron Price, and AAVSO in general for organising the workshop. It was awesome.

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One Response to “Second Citizen Sky Workshop and ASV Talk”

  1. Joan Chamberlin Says:

    David,
    This was a wonderful summary of our wonderful workshop and time in San Francisco. Thanks for sharing it with me.
    Cheers,
    Joan

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