The WWW is a sky survey

One of the things I have been saying for a few years is that the astronomical images available on the Web, taken together, form some kind of very heterogeneous and odd sky survey. Could this be used to do science? Lang and I have an argument that it can: He Web-searched "comet holmes", took all images found that way, calibrated them with Astrometry.net (many didn't calibrate because, for example, they were images of cats or grandmothers), and fit a gravitational trajectory in the Solar System to the image locations. We started to write this up today.


  1. That's a cool idea.

    The WWW is a powerful image machine. If the information are better organized, I think there could be all kinds of interesting astronomy to do.

    For example, the recent Jupiter impact was completely caught in surprise. Since Jupiter/Saturn are such favorite targets to observe, one might be able to use images available on the net to figure out something about variations of Jupiter/Saturn atmosphere over long time baseline with good sampling.

    Or using astrometry.net to find serenpidious transients (spy satellites, strange transients, etc...)

  2. Do you have something against photos of cats and grandmothers?

  3. I eagerly await your lolcomet site