September 10 - 12, 2013

Mobilizing the Citizen Scientist


Mobilizing the Citizen Scientist



GLOBE at Night is an international campaign, coordinated and run by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution. Citizen-scientists around the world measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer. In the last 8 years the campaign has collected more than 97,000 measurements documenting light pollution from over 115 countries around the world.

In late 2010 NOAO staff built a webapp to take advantage of the GPS capabilities built into mobile devices to get an automated and accurate report of the user's location. More than 45% of the data has been submitted in the three years that the webapp has been in use, with nearly 20% of this year's (2013) data reported on a mobile device, compared to 6.8% in 2011 and 7.3% in 2012.

This talk will:
- Describe the value of developing for mobile, highlighting the synergies between mobile and desktop
- Explain how developing for mobile can open up new opportunities to engage the public and enable new programs
- Describe how adding support for mobile devices has increased the accuracy and relevance of the data submitted via both mobile devices and desktop computers
- Compare and contrast the roles of desktop and mobile in GLOBE at Night
- Describe how a specific call to action in a community can increase engagement in a citizen-science campaign


Mark Newhouse, Web Designer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory




Technical Level


  • Mobile Research and Learning Interoperability
  • Responsive Design
  • HTML 5
  • HTML 5 APIs
  • CSS 3
  • Javascript
  • Responsive Web Design
  • Mobile Web App