web cams and James Bradley

Over lunch, Markus Pössel (MPIA) mentioned that he can measure the sidereal day very accurately, using a fish-eye or wide-field web cam pointed at the sky. This led us to a discussion of whether it would be possible to repeat Bradley's experiments of the 1700s that measured stellar aberration, precession of the Earth's axis, and nutation. Pössel had the very nice realization that you don't have to specifically identify any individual stars in any images to do this experiment; you can just do cross-correlations of multi-pixel time series. That's brilliant! We decided to discuss again later this month along with a possible (high school) student researcher.

Before that, Roberto Decarli (MPIA) and I discussed various projects. The most interesting is whether or how you can "stack data" (combine information from many images or many parts of an image) but in interferometric imaging data. Decarli has shown that you can do this stacking in the fourier space rather than in the image space. That's excellent, because the noise properties of the data are (conceivably) known there, but never understood properly in the image space. I gave him my usual advice, which is to replace the stacking with some kind of linear fit or regression: Stacking in bins is like linear fitting but under hard assumptions about the noise model and properties of the sources. We agreed to test some ideas.

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