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Adopt a Star

Back in February I watched Travis Metcalfe’s talk about the Pale Blue Dot project, where you can adopt a star for $10 and sponsor scientific research. And not just any star; the recently launched Kepler satellite is looking for planets around these stars. Now that’s a cheap price to pay for so much fame and glory 🙂

Of course, I wanted to adopt the brightest star available, but this was difficult using the interface available at that time. So I decided to download the list of stars and build my own Ruby on Rails application around it to make this search easier.

It’s located at pale-blue-dot.sprovoost.nl and here’s a preview:

My adopted star
My adopted star

You can search for stars in order of increasing or decreasing brightness and you can choose not to list stars that are already adopted. Each of the stars can viewed in Google Sky Maps, so you can see if you like the looks. You can also search by adopter name.

I just realized that every star now has a URL. Not sure why that is significant, but it’s kind of cool.

One of the features that I’d like to build soon is the possibility of finding available stars near a particular star, so you can adopt a star close to your friends star. To make the sky even more social, I’d like to build a Facebook App around it.

Of course, I don’t have an infinite amount of time to work on this, so any help is greatly appreciated.

You can find the source code here and the issue tracker here.

Also, is there anyone with enough math and programming skills and patience to build a mobile app? Such an app would use the phone’s clock, GPS, accelometer and (optionally) compas to assist in locating the adopted star in the sky.