HOYS Citizen Science

Newsletter Contents

Welcome to the HOYS newsletter for September. It gives a general overview of the project, an up to date overview of data and observing priorities for the coming season, and further details on our internet presence and ongoing research. Finally, we are looking for a volunteer to help look after our database.

General Project Update

The project is progressing well. Participants keep uploading data and processing it into the database. See more details on numbers below.
During the last few weeks we have done three more online talks to amateur societies about the project. We have now spoken to more than 1600 people during 48 presentations, six of which have been online. If you would like a talk for your society please let us know and we will arrange it as soon as we can. We uploaded one of the talks to our YouTube channel for people to watch back.
We have written a short article about the project for the Spanish newspaper Astronomía. It is in Spanish, but we will post the original English version in due time on the website.
The part of the project that uses the LCO network is also progressing. We have now taken 27 sets of B, V, R data of the Cocoon Nebula. Participants have started to investigate light curves and we will soon make further analysis tools available to enable anyone to perform their own more detailed analysis.
Cumulated Number of HOYS images over time
Figure: Cumulative number of images over time observed for and processed into the HOYS database. As you can see, the rate of images has increased over the course of the project. The green lines on the top indicate times when papers with HOYS data have been published. The blue lines on the bottom indicates days when talks about the project have been given.

HOYS Data and Observations

We have now collected over 31400 images and stored in excess of 143 million brightness measurements in our database. The 30000th image is shown below and the participant has written a short article about it. The first participants have also started to send in new images from the winter targets. Thanks for staying up until the morning!
From October 1st we are starting to monitor the object KH15D near NGC2264 with the 2m Liverpool Telescope for the entirety of the visibility - until the end of March. Weather and Moon position permitting we will obtain deep images each night in the U, B, V, R, I, and H-band. We would also like to obtain deep images in H-alpha of the source. Thus, if you have an H-alpha filter please try to obtain a deep image of the source whenever possible during this winter. The source is slightly to the South of the nominal coordinates of the NGC2264 field. Thus, please make sure that KH15D is in the filed of view (RA=06:41:10.3, DEC=09:28:33.2, just North of the Cone Nebula), and submit the data for the NGC2264 (target 004) field.
Over the past two weeks we also obtained deep images of all currently visible target fields in all filters with the 2m Tautenburg Schmidt telescope, which has a 6kx6x CCD camera with a 1.3deg x 1.3deg field of view. As soon as the data is reduced we will add it into the database. We aim to repeat these deep observations of all targets roughly every 6 month and use in particular the U-Band and H-alpha data to study long term mass accretion rate changes.
Since last year we are also collaborating with the Bayfordbury Observatory, associated with the Centre for Astrophysics Research at the University of Hertfordshire. The first two years of the data (about 1000 images) for us have now been uploaded and have been processed into the database. We hope to continue this collaboration over the years to come and make in turn all of our data available for undergraduate student projects and other research projects.
Finally, as always, please keep imaging all targets regularly and submit the data. In particular the winter targets situated further South are challenging as they are only visible for a small number of hours for most of our participants.
30000th HOYS image
Figure: Gray scale representation of the 30000th HOYS image. It has been taken in a B filter and is of the Cocoon Nebula.

Webpage and Social Media

We keep posting news stories and light curves on the website regularly. If you would like to contribute your own stories, please feel free to send them to us. Also, if you find any interesting objects in the HOYS data, please let us know and we will add them to the light curve of the week.
We do also share all posts on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Our Twitter account is still new, hence please if you are using this, like and re-tweet things we put out and send us suggestions of who to follow - for starters I think we should aim to follow as many amateur societies as possible. Let us know if we are missing any.
If you know anyone who would like to stay informed about the project please ask them to follow our social media or to sign up to the webpage newsletter.
Over several months we have had a user that repeatedly started the same light curve query with a huge search radius, causing the server to run out of memory. Despite my plea not do this, as it makes the server un-usable for others each time, these queries have been repeated over and over again for hours each day. As a consequence the maximum search radius for light curves has now been restricted to 10 arcseconds.

Publications and Research

The analysis of the data you are contributing is continuing all the time.
As of September 21st, we have a new PhD student working on the HOYS data. The main focus of the thesis will be the investigation of rotation and spots on young stars. Furthermore, we also have a new research masters student that started on the same day, who will work with some of our data for the next year.
The work on the paper about rotation periods in the Pelican Nebula has stalled a bit over the last weeks due to workload pressures caused by teaching preparation. Hopefully this will be picked up again over the next few weeks.

Volunteer to look after our database

Our server with the main database is essential for the functioning of the project. We had this set up by a paid computing student some years ago and it has been working fine ever since. However, our ability to keep the database up to date and make sure it is future proof (for larger amounts of data we are anticipating) is currently quite limited as we do not have the relevant knowledge in house anymore to do this. Furthermore, there are many improvements to the database and web interface we would like to make.
Hence, we are looking for a currently unpaid (but see below) volunteer that helps us to look after the database. The relevant person will need experience with unix, github, databases, python, django, mysql, and html. If you are qualified please get in touch with us. Or if you know someone who would be able and willing to do this, that person should get in touch. We will then make a selection of the best candidate.
We are currently writing a funding proposal to make this a payed 'consultancy' position at a rate of £100-200 a day. So there is the prospect of this becoming a funded position at a later stage.
HOYS Citizen Science
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