Citizen Science – Astronomy for All

This class has passed
This class has passed

What’s it all about?

Citizen Science is when members of the general public contribute to real scientific programs in their free time.

In this class we will hook The Little Mule up to a telescope in New Mexico, and learn how citizen science is vital to astronomy today.

In this world of data connectivity, space telescopes and robotic earth based telescopes – the modern astronomer is not necessarily the lonely person out in the cold on a dark mountain. The ‘3.0 Astronomer’ leverages the community and social media, mining torrents of data from all around the world in order to scan the heavens.

What will we cover?

This class is your opportunity to help astronomers track an asteroid that may one day strike the earth.

Weather permitting, we will use a robotic telescope in New Mexico to take live photos of a Carbonaceous Asteroid on its journey past earth, before submitting the data to the OSIRIS-Rex NASA Goddard Space Institute at Arizona University.* OSIRIS-Rex is the name of a space mission to a 500 m Asteroid which has a 1:1800 chance of hitting the earth in 2182, so its important we know where it is!

During the class we will:

  • Take images on a robotic remotely controlled Telescope
  • Find faint asteroids in “blinked” 3 image animations
  • Measure the asteroid positions
  • Report the positions to the OSIRIS-Rex Program
  • Learn about other Citizen Science projects you can do on your desktop, like measuring and classifying Moon Craters, and looking for Kuiper Belt Objects with the Citizen Science community.

*If the weather doesn’t permit – we will use some backup images but still measure the path of the asteroid.

Who will be teaching?

Peter LakePeter Lake is an amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers and Variable Stars South. His personal highlights have been recovering potentially hazardous asteroid (162422) 2000 EV70 as a volunteer in “Spacewatch – Fast moving objects”, one of the very first citizen science projects back in 2004, and co-authoring a science paper on Cataclysmic variable stars. He has also done valuable research on exo-planets and supported the Hubble Space Telescope mission with targeted observations.

Peter’s popular blog regularly carries news of amateur astronomers supporting real science, and other citizen science activities. Peter is also an affiliate of the world’s premier telescope network.