AAVSO: American Association of Variable Star Observers

Smartphone Astrophotography: A Useful Approach for Outreach and Education

Volume 48 number 1 (2020)

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Sara Bimo
York University, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada; bimosara@yorku.ca

Abstract

In this article, I describe my experiences with a somewhat neglected method of variable star observation: smartphone images. I outline the potential of smartphone images as a tool for astronomy education and argue that they are a uniquely effective way to draw in beginner observers (especially younger observers, amongst whom high-level smartphone usage is ubiquitous). I describe my methods in collecting images of two variable stars (δ Cephei and β Persei) with my smartphone, and how I used these data to make magnitude estimates and phase diagrams. I conclude with a note on the potential of smartphones as an educational tool, and outline some of the aspects that contribute to their appeal and usefulness.