We wanted to fuse our coding skills with our scientific knowledge. After doing some brainstorming, we decided to do something in the field of Astronomy.
What it does
The main aim of this project "AstroHack" is to build an application through which, whenever you point to some portion in sky with the smartphone, you would get the list of astronomical objects that could be found in the region.
How we built it
The smartphone can be rotated in any direction and corresponding reading of Altitude and Azimuth (AltAz coordinate system) would be calculated using the data obtained from accelerometer, magnetometer, and gyroscope. Then using coordinate transformation from library astropy, the corresponding RA and Dec (ICRS coordinate system) is calculated. Furthermore, a query is made to search the astronomical objects within a certain bounding box around the obtained RA and Dec. From the result of the query, a list of astronomical objects in the region pointed by the smartphone screen would be displayed. The required functions for this process is in the JupyterNotebook "Data_Processing.ipynb"
Furthermore, the next goal was to get a picture of a certain patch of sky through the camera and after following the step in 'Coordinate-transformation' we would do image processing and map the bright spots (above a certain threshold) to the result obtained from the query. A demo for this is shown in the file image_processing.ipynb.
Challenges we ran into
We had a hard time connecting React Native with our python code.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We could successfully write codes to transform the local altitude-azimuth coordinate to RA Dec(Equatorial Coordinate System) coordinate system. Additionally, we were able to do image processing of a sample image of the night sky and map the brightest spots (above a certain threshold) to the data from a database. We were also able to get the magnetometer, accelerometer, and gyroscope data and manipulate them to calculate the pose of the smartphone.
What we learned
The biggest lesson from this hackathon was the importance of the proper planning of the tech stack before starting a project.
What's next for AstroHack
AstroHack can be furthered by adding a user-friendly front-end technology that would help the view the celestial objects of the sky. It might help astronomy enthusiasts to know more about what they can really see from a particular place.