Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hetu'u Global Network Results Published


This is a short post to let you know that the results of the Hetu'u Global Network have been officially published in Astronomy Education Review (AER)! You can see the article here.
More details after the jump.

Hetu'u is the rapanui word for "star" and forms part of our official team name for the transit of Venus activities. As some of you may know, we traveled to Easter Island (Rapa Nui) to observe the transit and coordinate with other school groups around the world. You can see my blog posts on these activities by clicking here. One of the things we aimed to do was to measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This has been done before, of course, but it was an exercise to bring together people from across the world in a global scientific effort. Here is our team coverage:


In the figure above, red marks indicate places where the second or third contact time was measured. Black symbols were unable to do so given local weather conditions.

Combining these contact time measurements we derived a distance to the Sun of 152 +/- 30 million kilometers. Not bad given the distance that day was actually 152 million kilometers! (Remember that the Earth's orbit isn't perfectly circular so the distance changes by a small amount throughout the year)

The details on how we did these calculations are here on this blog and on our AER article.
Credit must be given to Jackie Faherty without whom none of this would have happened. She was an outstanding and enthusiastic leader in all this and I was proud to work with her. Many thanks to Scott Miller as well, who encouraged us to write up the AER article. Of course, a big thanks to Team Hetu'u for their awesome work in all the outreach activities on the Island! And last, but not least: thanks to all participants in the Hetu'u Global Network, which were instrumental in performing this measurement.

This concludes this chapter in the Transit of Venus activities with one tiny part missing: the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach this January. Jackie and I will both be presenting education posters on the outreach activities we've done as part of Team Hetu'u. If you're attending the AAS meeting, feel free to stop on by and chat with us.

If you like to check out pictures of the Hetu'u Global Network activities, check out the flickr album here or here.

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