Time Sinks for Fun and Profit
As part of the registration process, we asked new participants what they felt would be their biggest challenge in this project. The #1 answer, by far, has been time. So we've put together a table of the amount of time needed for a sampling of roles in the project...
Everyone is worried about how much time the project may take. That makes total sense since time is the most valuable thing we have in this life.
Citizen Sky is a big project with an ambitious goal: to train citizen scientists to engage in every stage of the scientific process (not just observing). However, to participate one does not have to participate in all stages. You can choose a level of participation based on interest and the amount of time you want to contribute. So I've put together a list of some roles in CS that someone can participate in along with an estimated amount of time needed to meaningfully contribute something.
Note that this is really a thought exercise more than anything. What takes one person 10 minutes may take another a day, and vice versa. So take this is nothing more than a way to get an idea of how one can participate. And it certainly is not an exhaustive list. As the Madison Ave. likes to say: your mileage may vary!
|Activity||Description||Estimated Time Needed|
|Visual Observing||Make a visual observation of epsilon Aurigae every two weeks||15 minutes to read the 10 Star Tutorial and print the chart; 30 minutes to make first observation and submit the data; 10 minutes to make and submit an observation thereafter|
|Observing Algol||Observe a full eclipse of Algol (beta Persei) in one night. Upcoming evening eclipses are noted in our events calendar.||Algol is close to eps Aurigae, thus is easy to find. Expect to spend about 20 minutes identifying the comp stars. Then you want to make one observation every 30-60 minutes until the eclipse is over for the night. Each subsequent observation takes about 5 minutes after you are comfortable with the field. Then expect to spend about 15 minutes submitting your data.|
|Learning DSLR Photometry||If you have a DSLR camera, you can take very accurate measurements of epsilon Aurigae. However, the learning curve is steep.||This will vary widely based on your prior experience. Someone without prior CCD photometry experience will need to learn how to extract raw files, install and learn a photometry software package, learn equipment calibration procedures (flat fields, etc.) and learn how to submit the data. Our guess is that, on average, this is probably about 10 "person days" of work (to learn enough to make your first estimate_. But, of course, the photometric learning process never truly ends...|
|Use a Robotic Telescope||A team has been created for using various Internet-accessible robotic telescopes to observe epsilon Aurigae and submit photometric data.||This would be a good project for those interested in DSLR photometry but without a DSLR camera or without the time to devote to it. This is a new team so the learning curve hasn't been established. But we guess it would take about half the time DSLR photometry will.
|Forum participation||Our forums are a good place to ask questions, try out ideas or just chat about things.||One popular forum poster told me that they allocate every Sunday morning to catching up on the CS forums and making a post or reply. The forums are not insanely active, so that is probably a good schedule. Plan on an hour per week.|
|Test VStar||Our flag ship software package for analysing variable star data is ready for testing on all platforms.||Downloading and running VStar is quite easy. After that, spend some time loading light curves and playing with the settings. Then sending a report with bugs and/or suggestions. Plan on a minimum of 2 hours. Of course, more is better. :)|
|Outreach|| Give a talk to your local club/school/museum, post a blog entry, etc. We have some materials (PPTs, DVDs, etc.) so we can send you to help out. There is also a team that can help.
||A good talk and/or blog entry may take a couple of hours to write, depending on your familiarity with the material. New participants may need to spend a couple of hours reading about eps Aurigae.|
|Write an article for a journal||This is the ultimate goal of many of the teams. However, it is something that CS isn't really going to focus on until years 2-3 of the project. A workshop will be dedicated to this in Sept. 2010.||Right now, this would involve mainly doing background reading and literature reviews. Brian is doing a great job of summarizing key eps Aurigae literature in the forums. So expect to spend maybe 5-10 hours per month just reading for now. Post forum topics on things you don't understand. Later on, you'll be in great demand as data analysis teams begin to form.|
|Join a team||We have lots of teams with various project goals.||Level of participation will vary based on the team goal and your role on the team.|
|Lurk!||The time may not be right to jump in right now. Until the right time comes along just hang 10 and surf the web site!||Hit the web site and forums once a week and you'll never be behind. Eventually the time may be right for you to jump in. Or maybe a newly announced project will catch your interest.|
If none of these ideas strike your fancy, feel free to contact us to ask for advice. Tell us what interests you about astronomy, your background and how much time you think you may have and we can suggest some ideas for you (or even come up with a new project tailored for your needs).