AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 91. Computers in Education
Education, Oral, Friday, January 8, 1999, 2:00-3:30pm, Room 9 (C)

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[91.03] Stardial: an autonomous astronomical camera on the Web

P. R. McCullough, D. W. Logan (U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Stardial is a stationary, weather-proof electronic camera for recording images of the sky at night and delivering them to the Web (www.astro.uiuc.edu/stardial/). Its field of view is 8x5 degrees and its limiting magnitude is 12. It was invented by the first author specifically for teaching astronomy via the Web. Stardial is in its third year of continuous monitoring of the equatorial region of the night sky, and it has archived more than 15 thousand images for students to investigate. We are aware of three universities and one high school that use Stardial, but there may be more. During the most recent quarter, Stardial delivered 1000 images per day to web surfers. Stardial's most successful teaching activities related to variable stars and asteroids, because those objects change with time and are therefore most interesting from Stardial's patient viewpoint. Following a feature article in the German popular magazine Sterne und Weltraum, German amateur astronomers have been busily finding unusual events (new variable stars, artificial satellite glints, etc) in Stardial's archive. The archive is a veritable mine of data for individual projects at either the university or the science-fair level. For example, one Chicago high school used Stardial's data in its feature presentation to the Illinois State legislature. As we write this abstract, the Stardial group is analyzing photometry from the entire Stardial archive and is working with the ROTSE group (www.umich.edu/~rotse/) to archive the entire (northern) sky on the Web each night at a resolution of 30 seconds of arc, with a limiting magnitude of 15. We anticipate demonstrating Stardial and also the new, all-sky archive at the meeting with a FITS image viewer written in JAVA.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to www.astro.uiuc.edu/stardial/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: pmcc@astro.uiuc.edu

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