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Google Maps meets Light Pollution

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#1 jshine

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Posted 19 May 2008 - 09:17 PM

Last year I wrote a web application that uses the Google Maps API & a map of North American light pollution from the Dark Sky Association to provide a guide to potential dark observing sites in the US. I also incorporated a database where users could mark & annotate their own favorite sites:

http://www.jshine.ne...onomy/dark_sky/

I posted this to another forum on CN at the time, and it's been online for maybe 8-9 months now. Unfortunately, as a graduate student I just don't have the time to devote to maintaining & improving this site. There are some additional useful features that I'd like to implement, but just don't have the time for... I do think it's a potentially useful resource though, and I'd hate to see it languish.

If anyone knows of a person or organization that might be interested in taking over this application, I'd be more than happy to release what I currently have in an open-source format under a public license like the GPL.

Thanks,
Jon

#2 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 05:17 AM

Last year I wrote a web application that uses the Google Maps API & a map of North American light pollution from the Dark Sky Association to provide a guide to potential dark observing sites in the US. I also incorporated a database where users could mark & annotate their own favorite sites:

http://www.jshine.ne...onomy/dark_sky/

I do think it's a potentially useful resource though, and I'd hate to see it languish.


It's an exceedingly useful resource. I have a few questions:

  • Have you approached Atilla Danko, of the Clear Sky Chart? It seems right up his alley.
  • Do you plan to keep the site that you currently have? It's great even without improvements.
  • Do you mind if major websites (e.g. Sky & Telescope, where I work) link to it? Can you handle the increased traffic?


#3 csa/montana

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 08:10 AM

Tony, great suggestion for contacting Atilla! This would be a great added feature to the CSC.

Carol

#4 csa/montana

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 08:12 AM

Jon, we can't thank you enough for all the work you have put into this project, I know someone will carry the "passed torch", so your work will not be in vain!

Carol

#5 veebs2

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 10:01 AM

Jon,

I just played with your application for a few minutes. Great job! Very easy to use!

#6 jshine

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 10:07 AM

It's hosted professionally, so bandwidth isn't a problem, but my hosting company gives me about 2,048 GB of transfer per month. I'm not sure what kind of traffic an S&T mention would bring, but as long as it's not dramatically larger than that number, I'd welcome the attention.

The code for site itself was designed to scale well (I think I tested it into the tens or hundreds of thousands of marked observing sites), so it's unlikely your readers would overload the SQL database that runs it.

-Jon

#7 jshine

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 10:08 AM

[LIST][*]Have you approached Atilla Danko, of the Clear Sky Chart? It seems right up his alley.


I'll look into this. I tried approaching the Intl. Dark Sky Association, but that didn't seem like it was going anywhere.

Thanks for the pointer!

#8 AleX`G

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 10:59 AM

Very nice I did something like this for the UK last year but it didnt really work out very well. I had problems with overlaying the images so they would be over the correct parts of the country. I thought it may have been a projection issue as I think I was using a satelite image.

Like this
http://www.roe.ac.uk...h/darksky01.jpg

Did you encounter simmilar problems with your implementation?

Alex

#9 jshine

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 12:35 PM

Very nice I did something like this for the UK last year but it didnt really work out very well. I had problems with overlaying the images so they would be over the correct parts of the country. I thought it may have been a projection issue as I think I was using a satelite image.

Like this
http://www.roe.ac.uk...h/darksky01.jpg

Did you encounter simmilar problems with your implementation?

Alex


I was extremely lucky in the sense that the map I downloaded (from an Italian research team) had the same projection as the map that Google uses. In your case (and bear in mind that I'm not a cartographer either), you could try applying a 2-D transformation matrix:

http://en.wikipedia...._in_2D_graphics

This would be easily accomplished in Matlab (expensive, but commonly found in universities). I'm not sure it would work -- I'd have to read more about the particulars of the projections in question -- but my intuition says it should.

Since the team that I downloaded my image from also has maps for Europe, Asia, S. America, etc., I would like to extend my site's functionality to those areas as well. ...but with all the projects that I have to work on as part of my degree, I don't have time to make those modifications. :crazy:

-Jon

#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 01:28 PM


[LIST][*]Have you approached Atilla Danko, of the Clear Sky Chart? It seems right up his alley.


I'll look into this.


Oh yes. The other obvious organization to approach is Google itself. They have no shortage of programmers!

#11 jshine

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 01:41 PM

Oh yes. The other obvious organization to approach is Google itself. They have no shortage of programmers!


I actually did send them a note on their "business proposal" input form. There aren't many channels that we mere peasants can use to reach a programmer on their site, but that seemed like the best choice among the few choices available.

It also seems like it would be right up their alley. Someone at Google must have an Astronomy fetish:

http://www.google.com/mars/
http://www.google.com/moon/

This would be the ideal solution since it is their code I'm using. A thorough treatment by Google would probably make it much faster & more stable -- not to mention the added exposure that the light pollution issue would receive.

It's too bad that the map layer I'm using is a one-off thing. It was obtained for a research paper (http://www.inquiname...oad/0108052.pdf) & is not being updated, but in principle these maps could be updated each year without much trouble. Perhaps if a larger site like Google got involved, that might actually happen.

-Jon

#12 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 02:53 PM

in principle these maps could be updated each year without much trouble


Wow, wouldn't that be cool? They're seriously out of date by now in some fast-growing regions. And I'm pretty sure there are flaws in Cinzano's model and methodology that could be fixed, too.

I've thought of taking that job on myself; all the underlying data is in the public domain. But the task is really pretty overwhelming.

#13 Sirius76

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 03:13 PM

Jon,

I just have to say that you did a fantastic job! I've been looking for something just like this for quite some time.
Looking for new sites I always go back and forth between Google maps and clearskyclock lightpollution maps. This combines the both!

Again, congratulations on a job well done!
:bow: :bow: :bow:

#14 jshine

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Posted 20 May 2008 - 07:11 PM

I've thought of taking that job on myself; all the underlying data is in the public domain. But the task is really pretty overwhelming.


If you do, drop me a line. (So many projects, so little time...)

I was actually under the impression that obtaining the data required to generate this map required a special arrangement with the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program (DMSP). If there was a regularly-updated source of raw data, I would be willing to write some sort of import program to process it into an image or map-layer.

I have to admit that I have a form of programmer's attention deficit disorder: it's much easier for me to attack a new challenge than to maintain & improve a working program... ;-)

-Jon

#15 Elektronkind

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 03:00 PM

FWIW I run my own co-located server with unlimited transit, even IPv6 connectivity. It backs up nightly to a server on the west coat.

So, if this still needs a home, I'd happily give it a virtual host.

/dale

#16 jshine

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 07:22 PM

FWIW I run my own co-located server with unlimited transit, even IPv6 connectivity. It backs up nightly to a server on the west coat.

So, if this still needs a home, I'd happily give it a virtual host.

/dale


Thanks, I appreciate the offer. I don't mind hosting it myself -- I've got server space. What I am looking for was someone who liked the idea enough to take it & run with it -- enhance the application, continue adding new featuers & updates as the Google Maps API changes, etc. ...basically, an astronomically-oriented web developer.

As far as giving it bandwidth & a "home on the web" is concerned, I don't mind doing that part. It just lives along side a some of my other pages that are of less general interest, and it generally doesn't consume much bandwidth.

-Jon

#17 purpleseeker

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 05:46 PM

WOW! ! !
I'd just like to thank you for the fantastic work. :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

#18 TrippinReason

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 12:06 PM

This is great! Giving you some props for a job well done! Do you have a website where we can be kept up to date on other programs you're working on?

#19 JakeT93

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 08:41 PM

Great! Now I know what Bortle the Poconos are in, a very nice dark yellow, about2 2-3 scales darker then me! :)

#20 Tony Flanders

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 05:22 AM

Great! Now I know what Bortle the Poconos are in, a very nice dark yellow, about2 2-3 scales darker then me! :)


Just to clarify -- there is no relationship between the Bortle scale and the colored zones in the World Atlas of Light Pollution. A crude correlation was done once by the North Virginia Astronomy Club, and by typical Web carelessness, this got picked up by two very well-known sites: Wikipedia and the Clear Sky Chart. But the correlation was never intended for this purpose, and is crude at best and (I would argue) pretty seriously wrong in a number of cases.

If you want to use the colored zones -- which I recommend -- it's best to avoid any mention of the Bortle classes.

#21 o1d_dude

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 01:01 PM

Excellent resource, Jon.

Your application confirms my fears. I live in a red zone about 2-3 miles from the white.

*sigh*

#22 Brooklyn

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 11:32 AM

UGH!!! i am located in a RED ZONE!!

Central new jersey isn't really great for astronomy. At least I'm not located in a white zone :grin:

Also, a dark site with light polluted skies is better than not having a dark site with stray light coming in, with less light pollutants.

#23 WNCAGC

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 12:10 PM

Near red zone for me but I have places to drive to that are quite dark.

#24 Octavarium

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Posted 05 August 2008 - 04:38 PM

All red with surrounding orange 10+ miles away. Lousy CT!

#25 IngramDW

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 11:48 AM

Jshine,
Tell me more about the finder.
What kind of reply have you received from IDA Tucson?
I am affiliated with Dark Skies Northwest @ www.scn.org/darksky
Maybe I can find help here if you are still looking for someone to take over your work.
Dave Ingram 206-372-7292






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