Citizen Scientists Map the Transit of Venus

Esri logoEsri Builds Astronomy Observations Map Application

Working with Astronomers Without Borders, GIS software company Esri has built a Transit of Venus web map application that instantaneously displays data from amateur astronomers. Using a free smartphone application, these citizen scientists from around the world will capture their observations of the transit of Venus in early June and have their timing measurements immediately published on a map on esri.com.

“The Astronomers Without Borders relationship with Esri is fantastic,” said Mike Simmons, president of the nonprofit organization. “These technologies make it possible for everyone to take part in important astronomical events.”

Smartphone app.

Smartphone app.

The Esri Transit of Venus web map application, running on ArcGIS for Server, will work in coordination with the iPhone and Android Transit of Venus applications. This web application will show the following:

  • Where on earth the transit is visible and at what times
  • Tweets, pictures, and videos about the transit
  • Points of observations from the phone application with recorded and predicted times
  • An animation on what the transit looks like on the sun and which side of earth can view it

On June 5 or 6, 2012, depending on one’s location, Venus will pass between the earth and the sun. Through telescopes, professional and amateur astronomers will see Venus as a small, round dot moving across the sun. Since the eighteenth century, astronomers’ measurements of this rare event have been used to calculate the distance between the earth and the sun.

With thousands of people projected to participate in the 2012 Transit of Venus project, this may well be one of the largest crowd sourced mapping projects to date. The transit recordings will first be sent to the project center in the Netherlands and a few seconds later to Esri in Redlands, California. Anyone can add their impressions of the transit via Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, and these social media items will be displayed on the Transit of Venus map.

Follow this Transit of Venus project as it’s happening on June 5 at tov2012.esri.com.

[Source: Esri press release]