Steve and Amelia Goldberg,
If Houston Astronomical Society (HAS) would share recordings online, then star parties can be continuous and world wide. Soon, in human terms, there will be people observing from the far side of the moon and from Mars. So I hope Houston Astronomical Society will be a world leader in online community development. Why should every city and town and school and group in the world have to re-invent and re-learn the basics by reading paper – when they can see the sky in real time on global all sky cameras. In the skies of live videos for other purposes, in recorded videos. And from many groups and projects intended for “everyone”.
I really think Elon Musk should 120 MegaPixel, all sky cameras on every one of his Internet satellites — looking outward to the heavens. It can be reformatted for Internet viewers anywhere in the world. And archived for research, comparisons, machine vision, super resolution methods, and whatever the human species can dream or dare.
Outside the atmosphere, we might bless Elon Musk, rather than cursing that he is obscuring ground based observations. He can put up geostationary satellites and all of them for whatever purpose – can also have continuously recording cameras pointed outward. NOT just tiny fragments for a few peoples special interest, but for everyone, all the time, forever. And all the other frequencies and sensors can easily be integrated. It is just data.
Having our global sky accessible as it would be seen through our telescopes and cell phones and cameras (in real time) will give a framework for all the deeper datasets. If the sky is completely mapped in every cell phone. I was just out for a walk and saw the moon. I realized that if I had a cell phone with me, it has GPS (location), compass (orientation), three axis gyros and accelerometer (attitude and orientation), access to weather map overlays, access to stars positions as well as satellites, planets, stars. I would only need to ask it. Or it could tell me -” turn left and point the camera upward and I will guide you to where Jupiter is right now. If is is obscured and you are interested, I can show you the results of the combined efforts of millions of observers who have worked out and shared observations on that planet.”
I can imagine myself on a cloudy day or cloudy night (most of the time in Houston) looking through my camera to see the sky as it would be on a perfectly clear starry night. I know the pixels are not real, but the data and the visualizations are bound be as good or better than what I see inside my mind on a cloudy day as I try to “see” the skies above the clouds. Or as I try to remove the glare and buildings and street lights and stuff.
I like seeing the sky in many places. I would like to see the sky from the moon or from Mars. NOT synthesized because my interest is strictly in the finest details of the tiniest noise in the many pixels for days and months and years from many sensors. It is there that find the most peace and beauty.
Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation