Crowdsourcing the Sky

Point: Enlist hobbyists for mutual benefit3330710574_779de39b34_m1

Story: Every night, hundreds of amateur astronomers photograph the night sky. Some have joined the Astronometry group on Flickr to upload and share their photos with others. The project created an algorithm that helps identify the celestial objects in the photo. Hobbyists who submit their photos get a clear identification of what they photographed. In turn, the automated astronometry project adds to its storehouse of knowledge of planets, galaxies and other space phenomena. Currently, the project is calculating the path that comet Holmes took through the sky.
This project shows that the average person can still make a contribution to astronomical science, without having high-powered equipment. “There’s a large number of excellent amateur setups out there, and they discover supernovae and minor planets regularly,” said project team member Christopher Stumm of Microsoft in an interview, “We believe that if the information generated by the amateur astronomer community is harnessed, we could build an open-source sky survey much faster.”

Action: Find a group of enthusiasts in your field of interest. Use social media tools they likely already use (like Flickr). Give them a benefit to participate in your project – it could be a direct benefit (like identification their photo) and or a broader benefit, like satisfaction of participating in the advancement of science.

For more information, see: Found in Space

Lulin Composite photo by Richie Jarvisuk

Lulin Composite photo by Richie Jarvis - UK

1 Comment »How-to, Innovation, Opportunity

One Response to “Crowdsourcing the Sky”

  1. Melanie Mulhall Mar 9th 2009 at 07:13 am 1


    This is a great idea. And for those of us who are writers, it’s also a great way to conduct a bit of research, harvest new ideas, and otherwise get the creative juices flowing.