Egress light curve from visual, photometric and student sources
This semester the Tufts University introduction to astronomy class observed epsilon Aurigae as their course lab. The class has around 250 students and they do not have access to equipment for a formal lab. So epsilon Aurigae was perfect since it is bright enough to be seen from campus with the unaided eye and happens to be emerging from the eclipse. They were tasked to observe once every two weeks and report their data to Citizen Sky.
The above light curve includes all Citizen Sky data since February 1, 2011. The blue line is the 7 day mean curve based on data only from Tufts students. The red line is the 7d mean for visual observation from non-Tufts Citizen Sky participants and the green line is for photometric observations from Citizen Sky participants.
As you can see, the Tufts students agree well with the overall Citizen Sky participants. They have a higher dispersion in the beginning, which is expected considering they were brand new observers. After about a month their dispersion is only slightly higher than the non-Tufts participants. Indeed, the mean curves of all the data are almost identical in that the visual data mean falls just barely within the error bars of the photometric data.
Congrats to the Tufts students and to all the Citizen Sky observers, visual and photometric. Please keep up the drum beat as we head out of the eclipse. Observations will be needed throughout the year to help characterize the out-of-eclipse variation.
If any other instructors would like to use variable star observing in their labs, please contact us. There are a number of bright variables that can be observed in short time spans throughout the year.