Today we have Part 2 of a two-part series from Katy Maloney who attended the 2nd Zooniverse Project Workshop hosted in Chicago at the Adler Planetarium (US Zooniverse HQ) earlier this week. Katy is a full time sociology student at University of Quebec in Montreal, with a certificate in religious studies. Her main research interests are STS, citizen science communities, man/nature relationships and ontologies. She’s also a part-time Planet Hunter(ess).
The first day of the workshop was a happy surprise. As a social science student, I was beyond thrilled to finally catch a glimpse of this “data” gathered on Zooites, and as a Planet Hunter(ess), proud that our Zoo was doing so good and consistently appeared in the top tiers. Not only are we one of the most popular Zooniverse project, our zooites also spend more time per visit on the website. The second day of conferences started with Robert Simpson, web developer for Zooniverse and PI of Milky Way Project and involved in many others. I won’t go into every morning presentation in as much detail as with the first blog, since those morning talks will be available on video, and note taking was a bit harder on the second day…! (It was “lighting optional” in the Johnson Star Theater that morning, plus I have to admit there might’ve been some slacking involved.. I consulted with Jules, and she too decided to just sit back and enjoy that one!) Basically, Robert presented the lifecycle of a Zooniverse project, from A to Z(oo), somewhat debunking the scientific method (or more like deconstructing it) along the way! More volunteer metrics and stats were thrown in (see Jules’ blog for a Hertzsprung–Russell diagram of the Zooniverse).
Rob’s talk was followed by four case studies: Galaxy Zoo 2, Old Weather, The Andromeda Project and Snapshot Serengeti. Along the way, we’ve learned: from Kyle Willet about the Galaxy Zoo 2 catalog and interface, as well as some user classification quirks and what they learned from them; from Philip Brohan about the history of the Old Weather project, which deals in historical weather data extracted from old ship logs; about the amazingly quick processing of The Andromeda Project by volunteers in just a few weeks (and Cliff Johnson’s Christmastime gift of data reduction, achieved just as quickly and leading to a presentation in January at the American Astronomical Society Meeting: the project was launched in December!); and last but not least, Margaret Kosmala came to show us what Snapshot Serengeti was all about, demonstrating once and for all the sheer attractive power of cute animal pictures on the internet! Two of those projects (Snapshot and Andromeda) were so popular that they’re actually all out of data for now! I don’t see this happening to PH anytime soon, seeing how many quarters we skipped in order to stay up to date with the latest releases! Snapshot Serengeti will be getting new data shortly (warning: it’s addictive!), as of the workshop they’d received the latest hard drives from Tanzania. In the meantime, you can still go on a pointless safari: the data is still available, for people’s “ohhh”s and “ahhh”s only.
Next up was David Miller, who used to design for the Zooniverse and now holds a position as the Adler’s Visual Designer. His talk was mainly focused on how important good design is – both for the science and for the volunteer’s enjoyment, citing Apple as an obvious choice for people with a good design aesthetic (that shameless propaganda really hurt my Android’s feelings for a second there… ). Laura Whyte then gave a quick pep talk about the educational vocation of the Zooniverse, and about her experience on ZooTeach. She talked about their experience with school children and teachers, as they went into schools with Galaxy Zoo and Seafloor Explorer. They’re also working on the Planet Hunters for ZooTeach, which I’m really excited about! I attended an un-conference session on this topic later, so I’ll skip right ahead to lunchtime, when I had the opportunity to attend a Zooniverse Advisory Board Meeting, along with Janet and Jules. (After geting completely lost inside the Planetarium…!) Remember when I said in my last blog that you guys were the stars of this workshop?! Well this was the consecration, if you will: zooites, you are the top priority in 2013. Communities in the Zoos are being probed (in a totally non-invasive way, trust: no Zooites were harmed during the probing of those communities!) and as I also mentioned in previous posts, various research groups are assessing what it means to do citizen science, from the citizen’s perspective, and from statistics and survey results. We all know what the science teams get out of a Zoo project, but what motivates volunteers to spend their free time volunteering on a science project?! What makes a successful community/project?
We’ve learned that perhaps the average zooite was already somewhat of a science nerd to begin with, so are we really contributing to science literacy, or are we preaching to the already converted? Truth is, although our friend David Smith, the Average Zooite, is a white male in a technical job, there is a wide variety of reasons why one chooses citizen science as a hobby. I started a thread a while ago on Talk, asking people what their motivation was for hunting planets: while the overwhelming majority said their motivation was… hunting/discovering planets (who could’ve seen that one coming, eh!), others came up with creative and surprising reasons to explain their scientific pastimes: apparently, it looks good to say you’re a citizen scientist in your free time on your resume or in a job interview (take notes, zooites! I know I did.). Another user, who had a disability in the real world, turned his “illness” into an ability on the Zooniverse. I’m bringing this up because in a way, we can come to a very simple conclusion based on this: zooites all have different abilities, different reasons that motivates them, different backgrounds and different perspectives, and this richness transfers to the communities that organically assemble within the Zooniverse. And in order to grow the best environment for those serendipitous finds to happen, we have to make sure to foster curiosity within the communities, and then just keep the communication channels open: in case….
The lunch meeting lasted a bit longer than the lunchtime we had planned, so we all sorta rushed to the next un-conferences. Jules and Janet went to a session on machine-learning (or algorithm-training), and I headed for a session on communication and translating the Zooniverse. The first half, which I missed half of, was about setting up a communication tool for different Zooniverse teams to communicate amongst themselves, cross-projects: it was pretty straight forward and by the time that part was over, a type of mailing list was created for them already, live on the spot. The second half was what drew me in: being a native french speaker, I thought it would be great to have classification interfaces and instructions in other languages than English. Living in a french-speaking province, where teaching is done in french, and most public services (like say, the planetarium!) are required at least bilingual, I thought it was a shame that only anglo kids could benefit from a Planet Hunters education! A blog has since been posted to describe the steps to translate an interface, so with reserves, I might’ve found a cool side project! I would be more than thrilled to know that the local schools, planetarium and cosmodome could all have access to quality citizen science projects as well!
This ties in perfectly with the last un-conference I attended: the aptly named “education is awesome!” session! Education was deemed so awesome, in fact, that we were entrusted with a street-level board room with exterior view, bathing in them photons for a discussion before diving back into the depths of the Adler for the conclusion! I had the honor to recap the discussion that we had, which in short, was about finding practical ways to create outreach opportunities adapted to different age groups and settings. We felt that college students were perhaps less of a focus, since they were already in that science-attentive category for the most part, or in formal science training. Lunch conferences on citizen science projects were evoked, but not discussed a whole lot. Summer camps and day camps, however, often need rainy day activities, so why not get kids into a citizen science project!? We even discussed a possible collaboration with the Scouts to have a Citizen Science badge. The possibility of charging a small fee to send ready-made “citizen science kits” was also discussed briefly, to accommodate busy teachers or those who don’t have access to sufficient technological resources (laminating machines, big prints). Having a Talk forum for ZooTeach was brought forward, so that teachers could communicate and exchange tips and tricks (while of course providing feedback!). Teenagers are a special breed, and don’t necessarily react to “science” the way children do: perhaps insisting more on the “sub-culture” aspect of citizen science would be enough to get their attention and slip into science without hurt. Finally, two lovely ladies from the California Institute of Science talked about an project in the building, called the National Citizen Science Association, which seem very enthusiastic about Zooniverse projects and would be a potential great ally for outreach.
After the day was over, those who decided to stay for the public event had dinner at Zoo HQ, and then went back one last time in the Johnson Star Theater for 3 conferences: one by Brooke Simmons on Black Holes and Hanny’s Voorwerps, another by Philip Brohan on Old Weather, which had really interesting stories and interactive maps, and another talk by Margaret Kosmala, which introduced the visitors to the Serengeti plains and the camera traps that her colleague Ali Swanson placed in a grid all over the plains, to study predators and how they share the space with other predators. (Apparently, shipping hard drives from Tanzania is no fun!)
So what else for Planet Hunters? There’s a version 2.0 in the works (That’s all I know about it anyways, not much of a scoop…!) I strongly suggest you watch the videos from the conferences as soon as they’re online, most of the general Zooniverse talks had Planet Hunters stats and facts. You may also get to witness the precise moment that kianjin stopped classifying to dedicate all his time on Talk (no really, the very moment, clean cut, no looking back)! You may also get to see an epic Street Fighter-style classification battle between Chris Lintott and Arfon Smith: it was ridiculously long for no apparent reason, which made it even funnier, in my sense! These two days spent at the workshop were a great learning experience, and a chance to meet many passionate people. It’s really cool that it was filmed, so that way all zooites can attend, as I know many were disappointed about the closed nature of the event. All in all it was a really great few days, and I’m looking forward to seeing what science and new projects come out of the Zooniverse in the future.
Today we have a guest post from Katy Maloney who attended the 2nd Zooniverse Project Workshop hosted in Chicago at the Adler Planetarium (US Zooniverse HQ) earlier this week. Katy is a full time sociology student at University of Quebec in Montreal, with a certificate in religious studies. Her main research interests are STS, citizen science communities, man/nature relationships and ontologies. She’s also a part-time Planet Hunter(ess).
When I was invited to the Zooniverse workshop, I initially thought I would be kind of like a fish out of citizen waters: I was basically expecting a tech-fest, and a few scientists looking at me like the odd one out, an undergrad student in a sea of professors. Well I was right about being pretty much the only undergrad, and that’s about it! As previously mentioned in the Planet Hunters forum thread, the main focus of this workshop was community. That means you guys. Or us guys. First of all I felt very welcome, grabbing dinner with Jules the night before and then a few beers with Chris Lintott, Lucy Fortson and a few other zooniverse peeps. It was great to have Jules as a guide of sorts, introducing my somewhat shy self to people she recognized in the dark meeting room in the basement of the Adler Planetarium. It was so dark in there, in fact, that I mistakenly traded my usual morning coffee for a decaf without even realizing it! Lucky for us all, the auditorium was better lit, and everyone introduced themselves prior to the day’s events, so that took care of the “room full of strangers” issue! And as the first few morning conferences went by, I was more and more convinced I was not only welcome, but I was exactly where I should be and would find opportunities to participate in the sessions later.
A first welcome speech by the Adler’s new leading lady, Michelle B. Larson, who is a trained astrophysicist with a passion for science education and public outreach. The Adler’s support of citizen science will no doubt continue to flourish under her leadership. Then Chris Lintott, PI and omnipotent leader of the Zooniverse, gave a talk about the history and evolution of the Zoo for us all to enjoy. What was originally a couple of loosely coupled projects turned into double the projects fairly quickly: if it were a reality TV show, it would probably be named “14 Zoos and counting”, as new projects are already underway and even as we speak, there are enough proposals from the science community to double the projects we currently have!
As of now, we have over 800,000 volunteers signed up to analyze and classify various scientific data. As every other project goes live, other pre-existing projects also benefit from the growing “fanbase” of the Zooniverse. People come online to these projects to do authentic science, and emphasis needs to be put on the word authentic. The Zooniverse provides an environment where scientists can focus on the science, all of the engineering, designing and promoting platforms already made available for them to push forward their science objectives and present them to the citizen science world. Projects are viewed as a learning experience for citizen scientists, but also for citizen science: that’s why each project is different, new, and Arfon Smith, director of citizen science at the Zooniverse, will elaborate on that later in his talk. The “one visit rule” was probably derived from knowledge of what did and didn’t work in previous projects: people need to be able to start doing science on the first day, after minimal training time. This was stressed many times by Meg on the forums, and is later explained further in Karen Carney’s talk with statistics gathered from Zooniverse projects: a great amount of users are one-timers, and if we are to benefit from their visits, we need to have this affair leveled to their needs. All in all, complex doesn’t have to mean complicated, and importance was being focused on feedback: what is the “bacon”, the motivation that keeps the machine running? Is the correlation between citizen science and science literacy one of cause and effect, or were zooites simply already scientifically inclined? How can we foster serendipitous discoveries, or in the very least, provide the right kind of communication channels so that we intercept them as they happen? Simulated data, ZooTools, beta testing, communication and promotion tools, all of that good stuff was on the table to discuss later in the un-conference sessions.
Arfon was the second Zooniverse leader to take the stage and present a morning talk, titled “Capabilities of the Zooniverse: What we can do and what we’ll be able to do”. In 4 bullet points, he described the efficiency method developped by Zooniverse over the years: 1) Domain model, 2) Technologies/Tools, 3) Data in/out and 4) Intelligent systems. Seems a bit out there and unclear to the layman, so let me elaborate a bit. The first point has to do with a vocabulary the developers, science teams and other people involved in the Zooniverse have in common. There are subjects (things that people analyze ), tasks (things that people do through the classification interface), and users (volunteers, people). The second point has to do with a certain open source ethos: picking hard and different projects, testing the limits of what we can compute in a simple and sleek interface, the scale at which we can expand (in terms of traffic and support of huge inflow of data on the servers), in accordance to a strong science commitment (producing the best science we “citizenly” can). He had some info thrown in there on the subject allocator/classification API, that I will let the upcoming videos explain, as I’m not too sure my explanation would be any more enlightening, this is a bit over my head in terms of computing knowledge. It has to do with a core application called Ouroboros.. The third point is a bit fuzzy in my memory, but was about actual physical data I believe, pictures were thrown in of people with boxes and boxes of hard-drives (one of the many joys of metadata analysis I guess!). Data reduction was also included into this, while the fourth point, intelligent systems, described how data gathered on user behavior could inform and allow for fine tuning, eventually leading to a strength-oriented classification which would act as a potential negation of the equalization effect of the interface, which is tuned to accommodate first time users and “metausers” alike.
Speaking of the devil, who exactly IS the Zooite?! According to Karen Carney and Stuart Lynn’s accounts, his name is David Smith, he’s a white male, 40-41 years old, educated, he has a technical job and is from the US. Oh, and he wears glasses?! (I hope Stuart’s talk will be in the broadcast version, it was hilarious! Apparently a lot of zooites love their mothers.. or yours, more accurately!) Karen’s talk was jam packed with statistics, that I can’t all mention here, for lack of being able to write them down quickly enough! Most notably, their research have identified 3 types of users: initial users, those who visit only once (roughly 39%), sustained users, those who come back many times (59%), and metausers (2%). I was almost ready to make up slogans like “We are the 2%!” when I realized I was probably more likely in the 59% category myself. Turns out I’m a pretty unremarquable zooite according to those statistics! And that sits well enough with me – defying classification!
They also identified 3 “whys”, 3 bacon strips, 3 main reasons that zooites express as their motivation for joining a zooniverse project: social engagement, content engagement, and scientific engagement. Remember when we were asking if committed users were “converted” to a scientific interest, or if they just happened to be interested already? Well the demographics are consistent with science-attentives, meaning people who were already interested in science, be it through reading science mags, science news online or through a job that was technical and already sorta science-related. This relates to an issue that was brought forward: the confidence barrier. People have to believe they CAN do science. In fact, most people who think they’re doing terrible are doing fine, and some people can inversely get pretty cocky and think they got it down, while being completely off-track (although luckily perhaps, they are seemingly in lesser proportion). It’s the team’s prerogative to make sure that while more science-attentive people feel like they’re doing legit, real, authentic science, people who have no prior science background also feel like this is not above their heads. So the data presented was essentially quantitative (statistics, numbers based on surveys), but qualitative research (the “whys”) is also being conducted, by the Adler team, including Mr. Ryan Cook, which is a socio-psychologist (or should we say psycho-sociologist?! Sounds a lot funnier.. hehe) working on citizen science learning, and by another team based at Syracuse University, working on zooite motivation (again with the bacon!).
So what IS an un-conference exactly? A colleague of mine in sociology was joking around a few weeks ago telling me how un-conferences were essentially conferences where everyone could talk over each other and argue to no point, a sure-perfect way of wasting time, rubbing shoulders and shaking hands at high cost. While I agree that in some contexts it might be so, I found that in the context of this event, a citizen science assembly with many different people from different projects getting together to discuss things they have in common, it was more like a workshop/discussion group exercise, allowing for diversification and exchange on perhaps more circumscribed subject matter. People proposed subjects to discuss, over lunch, and then voted on their favorites in subjects submitted. The most popular subjects each got a session in one of the two afternoon time slots, which could each accommodate three to four different matter subjects. I mentioned that I met up with Jules, moderator for a few Zooniverse projects including Moon Zoo, for dinner on Sunday night. We discussed an un-conference session there, that she aptly titled “How to keep 800,000 research assistants happy”. Why research assistants rather than volunteers, user or zooites, you might wonder? It stemmed from a scientists working on a zooniverse project who once told her, after seeing his project go live, how great it was to suddenly have 10,000 research assistants working on his data. I thought it was also bridging the gap between the science teams and the volunteer base, in an effort to push forward a collaborative mindset. In this session, we discussed this “bacon” that Chris was talking about, from a volunteer’s point of view, and issues that were brought up in the discussion boards prior to the event.
Janet’s recollection of the session is pretty spot on:
1) Don’t Waste People’s Time. Make a good case for the science. Make it bug-free or get quick fixes. Educate the volunteers.
2) Volunteers are Collaborators. Include volunteers on beta tests and development. Be honest about what is happening, and share data and results. Communicate, encourage and give recognition when it it due.
3) Only present tasks machines cannot perform. If data the data collected allows a good machine algorithm to be written, inform the members of their success before closing the project down as “finished”.
We’re not difficult, basically: what zooites really want is to feel that their work is worth something. After all the hours spent classifying, they want to be sure that their time isn’t wasted, and that they aren’t subordinates to a despotic science team, ready to shut the shop down unceremoniously as soon as they have their results. The experience of the Supernovae project was put forward, even though we know its quick demise was due to our effectiveness (yay?!) and to an exterior person going “hey, your data allowed us to build an algorithm that’s doing just as good as you are, so thanks, I think we’re done here!”. That machine-learning aspect was discussed in another un-conference session, which Jules and Janet both attended and will probably provide more details for in their respective blogs/forum posts. While “metausers” are only but a small fraction of all zooites, they represent the core of each project, they’re the “expert citizens” that can better help keeping the community happy and informed. Furthermore, according to Jules’ numbers, which were agreed upon by zooniverse peeps present, 10% of the users do 90% of the work. Should I take my proverbial “We are the 2%” sign back out of retirement?! Yes and no.
The general conclusion I’d like to draw on is that the Zooniverse is well aware of and interested in you metausers and other sustained users. Even if the interface is technically made for the casual visitor, you are not forgotten, and fun things are in the making (like ZooTools, mentioned on the forums). I attended a session on the new Talk interface (which you can browse on the Planet Four site, as well as all newer Zoo projects), and all that attended were really excited about this version. Talks of a “Talk Tutorial” were had, to allow people who (like me, ahem…) aren’t necessarily familiar with hashtags and ways to optimize your use of Talk. Good news is, Talk 2.0 will be coming to Planet Hunters, sooner than later! And we can expect annoying bugs (like the image resizing and “sticky posts” issues) to be resolved also in a timely manner!
I realize that this blog is getting quite long (I did warn Meg that I was a blogging machine.. haha!), so I’ll let you guys go read Janet’s resumés of the other un-conference sessions of the day over on the Old Weather forum (a copy is also in the Zooniverse Workshop thread in the PH Talk Chat section), and will write another blog for Day 2 of the 2013 Zooniverse workshop.
It will broadly describe my experience as a zooite at the conference, as well as summaries of the second day morning lectures, including several case studies, followed by an account of a Zooniverse advisory board meeting, which I attended with Janet and Jules over lunch. I then rushed over to an un-conference session on Translating Zooniverse Projects (being a frenchie, this just spoke to me), thus missing a session hosted by Ryan Cook on measuring science literacy, which I would’ve otherwise loved to attend, and then to a second un-conference about education and its inherent awesomeness (sic!), which I got to summarize (nervously) for attendees at the end of the afternoon.
Tomorrow I’m heading to sunny southern California. I’m heading to the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) 221st meeting in Long Beach, California. Right before the meeting in Long Beach on January 5th and 6th, I will also be attending the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows Symposium. At both I’ll be talking about Planet Hunters. Also Stuart Lynn from the Adler Planetarium and the Zooniverse development team, one of the chief architects behind Planet Hunters, is going to be at the NSF symposium as well. Stuart’s going to be participating in the Novel Approaches to Public Outreach panel. I’m sure he’ll be talking all things Planet Hunters and Zooniverse at the symposium. Science team member Kevin Schawinski will also be attending the AAS meeting as well.
I’m giving my AAS talk on January 9th in the morning exoplanet session. My title is Planet Hunters in the Kepler Extended Mission. I’ll be talking about the discovery of PH1 and where the project is moving in the Kepler extended mission in addition to presenting some of new preliminary results from the science team. If you’re on twitter you can follow the conference live. Many of the astronomers attending (including me) will be using #AAS221 and for the NSF Symposium we’ll be using #AAPF13
I’m attending the Kavli Frontiers of Science 13th Japanese-American Symposium in Irvine, California this weekend. I’m going to present a poster on Planet Hunters to a mix of scientists from all different backgrounds. I thought I’d share the poster I’ll be bringing with me showing the current highlights from the project.
Just a quick note to say that we’ve uploaded Q7 light curves. This is the first of the latest Kepler Quarters from the July 2012 data release. As with each new Quarter, there is a new chance to spot never before seen planets. In other news, I write this post in Denver, Colorado on my way to Reno, Nevada for the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting which starts on Monday. This is one of the largest yearly gatherings of planetary scientists each year. I’ll be giving a talk on Planet Hunters science results. Last year I gave a talk introducing the project and presenting our first two planet candidates that we had found and preliminary results from my short period planet analysis. I can’t wait to share our results with you. So keep a look out on this space, Facebook, and Twitter for updates about the meeting and my presentation. In the meantime why not classify a light curve or two?
As I write this, I’m sitting on a train from London in the middle of the English countryside bound for Oxford. I’ll be spending the next week at the Zooniverse’s Oxford headquarters visiting Chris. I’ll be working and thinking about all things exoplanets and Planet Hunters.
Close to this time last year I visited Oxford for a weeklong visit after the AAS Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) Meeting in Nantes, France. Chris and I were working on finalizing and interpretting the first go through of the weighting scheme and Round 2 review and planning in the short term where Planet Hunters was heading. During that week, sitting in the Royal Oak (the pub where it all started in some sense – it’s the place where the idea for Galaxy Zoo was born), Chris and I, over a pint, outlined and planned what would become my short period planets paper. The project has made alot of progress since then, and we couldn’t do it without the contributions from all of you who make it possible with your classifications on the main site and efforts on Talk. Planet Hunters has 3 scientific papers now published or soon to be pubished in astronomical journals (Chris’s Quarter 2 planet candidates paper was recently accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal last week).
There’s lot to do this week and plan for especially with Kepler’s extended mission and the start of Kepler data being released every 3 months once the Quarter is complete come November. (More on that to come in November/December as we get closer to the extended mission.) This week, I’ll be showing Chris some of the research I’ve been doing over the summer, and we’ll plan the next few papers we aim to write. I’ve been working on improving the scheme I developed for Quarter 1 to identify transits by combining your classifications, and I’ve started applying it to Quarters 3,4, and 5. This summer also included some follow-up work on a few of our planet candidates we’ve identified in the past 6 months, though the results aren’t quite finished yet. My collaborators and I are still working hard on that, and I’ll share the results once they’re ready and we’re confident in them. I’ll be presenting the results from this work and what Chris and I get accomplished this week in Reno, Nevada at this year’s DPS meeting in October. My abstract was accepted and I’m scheduled to give a talk on the first day of the conference.
Today’s guest blog is from Adrian Price-Whelan. Adrian is a graduate student at Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. As a former research scientist with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), Adrian became interested in large survey science and statistical inference in large data sets. He is currently working on projects in time-domain astrophysics using data from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), but is interested in a constantly-growing list of astrophysical topics that incorporate theory, observation, and instrumentation. Outside of research, Adrian enjoys playing and writing music, programming, teaching, and bicycling around Manhattan.
Imagine yourself as a new user on Planet Hunters. You’re just starting to get familiar with the data when you come across a light curve with some features you don’t recognize. It doesn’t look like a transit, but it definitely isn’t noise — what is it? Enter Zoonibot!
Zoonibot was conceived as a sort-of “Planet Hunters butler,” for Talk able and ready to automatically answer questions and provide detail when users request information. It all started at the .Astronomy 4 conference in Heidelberg after just a few hours of planning, and after spending the rest of the day (and night!) writing code, Zoonibot could perform 2 functions! 1) He is able to respond to users who request help by commenting with a #help hashtag and 2) he can cross-reference sources flagged as “transit” or “planet” to see if they are actually known eclipsing binaries.
But our ideas didn’t stop there! One idea for some more advanced behavior is to build in some data analysis tools. Consider an example — given the case above, let’s say you comment on your mystery object with a question: “What is this object #zoonibot? #help!”. The hash tags tell Zoonibot that someone needs him! In this example, Zoonibot could do some simple data analysis with the light curve data and try to classify the type of variability, producing an automated response to the user with his interpretation of the data.
We will certainly provide another update when there is more to tell about the life of Zoonibot!
- Adrian Price-Whelan, Chris Beaumont,Gabe Perez-Giz, Chris Lintott, David Hogg, Meg Schwamb.
Drawing of Zoonibot provided courtesy of our PH Talk Moderator echo-lily-mai’s daughter
Greetings from sunny warm southern California. I’ve been spending the week at Caltech in Pasadena, CA for the Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop. It’s been a full week of talks, tutorials, and hands-on session on the latest on transit light curves both in science results and analysis. There are about ~140 people mainly postdocs and graduate students who are working on or are interested in getting into studying exoplanets. The talks are geared for new people in the field with researchers in a variety of related subject areas talking about open questions and surveying where the topic currently is.
All the talk slides are online if you’re interested in seeing what’s been discussed. Also, the talks are being recorded and eventually will be posted online. There were also electronic posters (I submitted one for Planet Hunters) which you can peruse here and here. Also many of the participants gave POP talks which were short 2 minute talks which I think gave a great sense of the wide variety of people in attendance. I gave one trying to highlight everything we’ve done so far in the project is 2 minutes (it was tough to boil all of it down to 2 minutes).
It’s been nice to be back at Caltech where I went to grad school, but I’ve really enjoyed learning about different tools and techniques written to fit transits, estimate masses of planets from transit timing variations in the light curve, and process and analyze Kepler light curves (PyKE). Today is the last day of talks. I’m a bit sad to leave to the warm California sun, but I’m keen to bring the tips and tricks I’ve learned this week back to New Haven and apply them to the analysis of the Planet Hunters data.
Today we have a guest post by Jules, fellow Planet Hunter and zooite who attended the ZooCon1. Jules is a lead moderator and blogger for the Solar Stormwatch and Moon Zoo forums as well as a volunteer on the Zooniverse Advisory Board.
Just back from the very first #zoocon1 in Chicago. I attended as a volunteer on the Zooniverse Advisory Board. As Meg said it was a chance for the science teams from new projects to meet with and learn from representatives of current projects and for everybody to meet up with Zooniverse techies and developers. It made sense then for some of the “old hands” to present an overview of their own projects. Meg’s Planet Hunters talk was particularly interesting as it highlighted the value of Talk and the great collaborative work being done there by volunteers.
A brief foray into data reduction showed the kind of work necessary to make the clicks usable. For example, there are 5,508 stars with possible transits. Removing all pulsating stars, which can be mistaken for transits, reduced the number of candidates to 3,404. Further examination of these transits reduced the pool further to 77 transit candidates – a much more manageable number.
Here’s Meg in action demonstrating the light curves of different sized planets.
The discoveries Meg highlighted included a slide showing 4 planet candidates missed by Kepler one of which is being re-investigated because of the work done by Planet Hunters. Kepler 16, the circumbinary system, also got a mention as did the impressive volunteer-led analysis on cataclysmic variables and heartbeat stars.
Old Weather, Mergers and the Milky Way Project were also put in the spotlight. Afterwards someone from one of the new projects told me how amazed they were that volunteers would want to do more than just click and another told me that they found the Planet Hunters story particularly inspiring and wanted to know how Planet Hunters had attracted these “awesome people.”
Well that’s Citizen Science for you. Volunteers come with a great mix of interests, skills and the knack of finding treasure!
Greetings from Adler Planetarium in Chicago. I’m at the first Zooniverse Science Conference. I’m here representing the Planet Hunters science team. At this conference science teams from the current and upcoming Zooniverse projects and the Zooniverse development team have gathered together to talk citizen science. It’s been a great two days of presented talks and discussions. This is the first time that teams from across the Zooniverse projects have come together. I’ve really enjoyed talking to the scientists from the different projects, and what I’ve been really impressed with is the cool and wide-ranging science that is being done in the Zooniverse. I’ve been hearing about the exciting future projects and new tools and features the Zooniverse is working on. This morning I shared the highlights from Planet Hunters and how I’m going from clicks to planet candidates. It was great to highlight all the science we’ve done and will be doing in the future with your classifications on Planet Hunters. I focused on my search for short period planets from the Quarter 1 classifications (on a side note – I got a response from the referee for my paper. I’ve revised the manuscript and the paper is back with the referee. Hopefully soon it will be accepted for publication by the Journal).