10 Citizen Science Programs where you can make Astronomical Discoveries

First of all, what is citizen science? According to Wikipedia – Citizen science is scientific research conducted by amateur scientists. Citizen science is sometimes described as “public participation in scientific research,” whose outcomes are often advancements in scientific research by improving the scientific communities capacity, as well as increasing the public’s understanding of science.

Role in Astronomy

Astronomy has been the oldest field where amateurs have contributed a lot to scientific discoveries and observations. Astrophotography involves the taking of photos of the night sky. Many amateurs like to specialize in the observation of
particular objects, types of objects, or types of events that interest them.

Some historic and recent instances

  1. William Herschel: Discovered Uranus through his telescope.
  2. Thomas Bopp: Discovered Comet Hale-Bopp using a borrowed scope
    (independently along with Alan Hale – professional astronomer)
  3. . Steve Olney: In 2019, detects a glitch in a Pulsar.First time a glich has been recorded and notified by an amateur radio astronomy observatory – in any pulsar. Here’s the link!
  4. Gennadiy Borisov: Crimean telescope maker and amateur astronomer who discovered the first known interstellar comet, 2I/Borisov in 2019.A well known name in comet hunter community. As of 2021, he has discovered 9 comets which are also named after himself.

Here are a list of 10 citizen science programs, where you can also give your contribution to astronomical discoveries and observations:

  1. SETI@home : Donate your computer’s spare processing time to find intelligent life outside Earth.
  2. Planet Hunter TESS : Discover new planets around stars outside of our own Solar System.
  3. Planet patrol : Help find out which planet candidates from the TESS mission are real.
  4. Disk detective : Spot the disks around nearby stars where planets form and dwell.
  5. Backyard Worlds : Search the realm beyond Neptune for new brown dwarfs and planets.
  6. Catalina outer solar system survey : Searching the skies for new distant, icy worlds.
  7. Sungrazer project : A NASA-funded citizen science project that enables anyone in the world to become a comet discoverer.
  8. Target asteroids : Citizen science project that contributes to our understanding of near-Earth asteroids.
  9. JunoCam : Upload your images of Jupiter and help us decide what points of interest JunoCam will photograph.
  10. International Astronomical Search Collaboration : A citizen science program that provides high-quality astronomical data to citizen scientists around the world. These citizen scientists are able to make original astronomical discoveries and participate in hands-on astronomy

You’ll just need a computer to work on these projects. Do look into these. And who knows you could become a discoverer of an asteroid, comet or an exoplanet!


Published by Anand Krishna

Amateur astronomer and astrophotographer. Interested in astrophoto processing, astrostatistics, comet hunting, visual and radio astronomy.

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