This project will use amateur astronomers to carry out
a systmatic sky survey that the professionals don't
have the resources to do.
"This project, aka TASS, hopes to construct
low-cost drift-scan cameras and distribute them to
sites around the world; the idea is to monitor bright
objects across a large section of the sky." -
This group has involved amateur astronomers since 1911
in observing variable stars for the benefit of astrophysical
research. Amateurs make important contributions in this
area because the enormous range of observations require
exceed what the professional telescopes can cover.
(HOA) project is an educational collaboration
between the AAVSO and the NSF to inspire amateurs to
do real science via variable star observation and analysis.
of materials including software, starcharts, videotape,
and more is available.
A program sponsored by the National Radio Astronomy
Observatory (NARO) and the West Virginia University
(WVU) in which high school students analyze radio telescope
data for new pulsars. The data primarily comes from
a nearly 3 month period in 2007 when the antenna was
under repair and stuck in one position, preventing researchers
from pointing it at their particular celestial areas
of interest. There was a huge amount of data collected
and would probably never have been examined without
the help of the students.
This organization is described as follows:
The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers
(A.L.P.O.) was founded by Walter H. Haas in 1947,
and incorporated in 1990, as a medium for advancing
and conducting astronomical work by both professional
and amateur astronomers who share an interest in Solar
System observations. We welcome and provide services
for all individuals interested in lunar and planetary
astronomy. For the novice observer, the A.L.P.O. is
a place to learn and to enhance observational techniques.
For the advanced amateur astronomer, it is a place
where one's work will count. For the professional
astronomer, it is a resource where group studies or
systematic observing patrols add to the advancement
Finding comets has been a favorite goal of amateur and
pro astronomers. Here are resources about comets and
The SOHO solar observatory satellite generates images
of the sun in various wavelengths. A surprising benefit
of these images is that comets that would otherwise
be too dim to be detected show up clearly.
It has become a fun hobby for people to scan frequently
the SOHO images for the sign of a new comet. Most of
these comets will soon vanish into the sun and never
be visible from earth otherwise. So the observations
have little scientific value but the hunt is still an
While professional automated systems to search for supernova
dominate the field, amateurs are discovering a good
number of new events, as well.
(Exosolar Planet Hunting)
Program to encourage amateur astronomers to monitor
stars for the slight diminution in brightness when a
star's planet crosses between the star and our line
- another amateur group effort to spot transits
This Ohio State University based program organizes amateur
astronomers help to find exoplanets using the microlensing
MicroFUN is an informal consortium of observers dedicated
to photometric monitoring of interesting microlensing
events in the Galactic Bulge. Our primary scientific
objective is to observe high-magnification microlensing
events that give the best potential for detecting
extra-solar planets orbiting the lensing star.
Amateur astronomers can participate in this project
to help determine the nature of the mysterious companion
to the star epsilon
This project is part of the
Zooniverse program (see below)
to organize scientific
research projects in which the general public can
participate. In Planet
Hunters volunteers will analyze data from the orbiting
Observatory spacecraft to look for planets around
PlanetQuest is "a nonprofit organization whose
mission is to inspire global participation in the discovery
of planets". The
Our Collaboratory software turns your computer into
an astronomical observatory and resource library.
Our telescopes are focused on extremely dense star
regions, such as the center of the galaxy in Sagittarius,
and when an observing run ends and thousands of images
have been collected, data will be downloaded to your
computer and your Collaboratory software will begin
Participants in this project will assist ESA
Venus Express scientific studies by carrying out
observations during periods
"when parts of the planet are visible
from Earth that are not visible from the spacecraft
(due to the spacecraft position in orbit). Additionally
it is important to compare Earth-based observations
with simultaneous spacecraft observations. In particular
this will allow us to extend our understanding of the
dynamics of Venus’s atmosphere based on the VEX data
to observations made prior to the VEX mission, as well
as after completion of VEX operations."
Additional info here:
Canada's First Space Telescope - Canadian
citizens can propose observations on the MOST space
- ISSAT - The International
Space Station Amateur Telescope - A project sponsored
by the Astronomical
League, to place on the International Space Station
a small (~15") telescope that would be controlled
by amateur astronomers from the ground. The goal was
to place a scope on an external pallet in 2006.
The project has apparently since been canceled, probably
due to the inability to get the telescope delivered
following the restricted access after the Columbia
The project received strong encouragement from NASA
and Boeing. They saw it as a great educational project
for the station. Boeing would build the scope and
NASA would pay for it.
The scope would not have challenged Hubble's capabilities,
but with 0.2 arcsecond resolution the scope would
produce images of sharpness comparable to those from
the largest ground-based observatories.
Access to the scope would have gone through a central
ground based control group run by amateur astronomers.
Up to half the observing time would be reserved for
school kids worldwide.
Planets, bright galaxies, and temporal phenomena of
high interests, such as comets and supernova, would
be the priority targets for viewing.
The prototype Alpha Telescope was developed and will
come online as a ground test system.
Space Telescope - Students in the Department
of Astronautics at the Technische Universität Berlin,
Germany are developing a clever compact telescope
design for space. A prototype of the will be tested
in microgravity during a parabolic flight.
- Fremont Peak
Observatory Association - this observatory
is a "labor of love and ongoing project for dozens
of amateur astronomers in the San Francisco Bay Area."
It provides a "home for the 30" f/4.8 newtonian
telescope" built by Kevin Medlock. The observatory
"opened in 1986, and has been open every summer
- Large Amateur Telescope (Group70) - This
volunteer group is building a major telescope using
a "mirror blank, found at the University of Tasmania,
Australia" . The blank is made "of Pyrex
glass and was originally cast in 1938 as a backup
blank for the 48in Schmidt Camera now in service at
Mt. Palomar Observatory."
The observatory "will be located in California's
'Dark Sky Corridor', a 200 mile long stretch of ridges
in the Coastal Mountain Ranges along the Pacific Ocean
renown for its clear,dark, steady skies."
Centre UK - non-profit group founded in 1982.
Operates several telescopes and is working on a 42inch
Technology introduced in the past few years allows amateur
astronomers to carry out sophisticated observations
of the sun that go far beyond just white light imaging
of sunspots. In particular, narrow band filters now
allow imaging of details in the chromosphere.
New Mexico Skies
This "Guest Observatory for the Sophisticated Amateur
Astronomer" is located Sacramento Mountains of
New Mexico at the top of Mt. Joy.
The six observatories at the site can be reserved for
on-site use. One can be accessed remotely and is used
by the Student
Telescope Network discussed below.
Society's NEO (Near Earth Objects)
The Planetary Society has developed this separate site
devoted to the study of asteroids and comets that pass
relatively close to earth. These objects are very interesting
scientifically and it's also a good idea to keep an
eye out for objects that are on a collision course with
This is an area where amateur astronomers can make
significant contributions, especially considering the
modest government support for NEO research.
In support of NEO efforts, the Planetary society established
Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grant to provide money
($5-10k) for amateurs, as well as professional rsearchers,
to purchase equipment.
Frank Zoltowski, for example, is an amateur astronomer
who received a Shoemaker Grant in late 1998. He used
the money for an improved CCD camera that allowed him
to make more precise observations of these faint objects.
According to a Planetary Society press release, his
measurements of the NEO named "1999 AN10"
"..enabled researchers at the IAU:
Minor Planet Center (MPC) to develop more precise
future orbital calculations for the object, which
is expected to pass within 200,000 kilometers (about
120,000 miles) of Earth in 2027, with the potential
for even closer Earth approaches in 2044 and 2046."
Observers' Program - UMD
- Originally designed to support the NASA Discovery
mission Deep Impact, this site provides info on
how to track "asteroids Vesta and Ceres in
support of the NASA Discovery mission Dawn and
comet Hartley 2 in support of EPOXI"
- University of Washington course gets undergraduates
directly involved in asteroid tracking and discovery:
Occultation Timing Association
This group organizes efforts to observe occultations
and eclipses. Asteroid, as well as lunar occultations,
are of interest in studying the occulted star as well
as the asteroid. Multiple views of lunar occultations
provide precise mappings of the Moon's limb. This, in
turn, helps to improve the measurments during solar
eclipses of the sun's diameter and energy output
Careful timing is crucial. Multiple observations from
as many points as possible can greatly increase the
depth of information obtained.
A lunar occultation observed even with just a video
camera can be useful. See, e.g. NASA
Space Science News: Amateur astronomers capture rare
video of a lunar occultation
The IOTA provides "news of meetings, predictions,
software, observing techniques and equipment, and results
for solar eclipses and lunar occultations as well as
for asteroidal occultations."
for Backyard Astrophysics CBA has been running
a project since 1991 to do long term photometric studies
of cataclysmic variable stars with amateur telescopes
using CCD cameras. Several sites around the world and
they would like to have more.
Star Trails Society
NASA initiative from science@NASA
to involve amateurs in real scientific research. Opportunities
for amateurs to contribute to projects in astronomy,
astrobiology and other natural sciences will be announced
several times a month. See, for example, the
South Pole Adventure below.
Students and amateur scientists will be invited
to work with the Center
for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA)
on a project in astrobiology in 1999. Stay tuned.
American Lunar Society
This group is dedicated to the promotion of lunar observation
and research. It sponsors various projects including Yearly
"Lunar Imagining Contest".
Here are some examples of major finds by amateurs:
This organization offers several projects in which members
of the public can participate in genuinely professional
science projects. The projects are created with the
help of scientists, programmers, & educators at
Science Alliance. Here are some of the astronomy
Zoo Hubble : "The latest version of the
original Zooniverse project. Help astronomers figure
out how galaxies form and evolve by classifying their
shape. Now with added Hubble galaxies."
Zoo Mergers: "A test case for more complicated
modes of interaction, visitors are invited to compare
simulations of mergers between galaxies with observation.
By having many thousands of people run simulations,
we can explore the vast parameter space more efficiently
than with automated routines."
Zoo Supernovae: Help us to catch an exploding
star. The task in this latest Galaxy Zoo project is
to help us catch exploding stars - supernovae. Data
for the site is provided by an automatic survey in
California, at the world-famous Palomar Observatory.
Zoo 1 and Galaxy
Zoo 2 were completed
- The goal of this project is help find a second object
for NASA's New
Horizons probe to visit after it passes Pluto,
the probe's primary goal. Here is a description of
the IceHunters program: The
most exciting citizen science project ever (to me,
anyway) - The Planetary Society Blog - June.21.11.
Milky Way Project - "The Milky Way Project
aims to sort and measure our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Initially we're asking you to help us find and draw
bubbles in beautiful infrared data from the Spitzer
Space Telescope. Understanding the cold, dusty material
that we see in these images, helps scientists to learn
how stars form and how our galaxy changes and evolves
Zoo: Explore the Moon in unprecedented detail
using images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Hunters - Examine data from Kepler orbital
observatory for signs of exoplanets around other stars.
This is a citizen science project sponsored by the Pisgah
Astronomical Research Institute (PARI). The task
is described there:
Are all stars like the Sun?
To participate go to the Take
The answer to this basic question has driven the field
of astronomy and astrophysics for nearly 100 years.
Explore the answer here by observing stars and comparing
their features to those of the Sun - by classifying
stars. Your participation will be a major contribution,
observing stars never before classified. You can be
the very first person to measure the temperature of
a star never before measured! This is discovery in the
purest sense of the word.
The many ground and space based observatories in
many different wavelengths generate huge amounts of
data that will never be fully analyzed. This is especially
true for the new generation of automated telescopes
doing sky surveys.
To try to tackle more of this data there are several
projects aiming to take advantage of the talents and
energies of amateurs and students by making some of
this data available on line.
The participant can examine a given section of sky
just as if a telescope is moved to look there, but in
reality it will be imagery already gathered from that
region of the sky that will be presented .
Assembling the Digital Sky: U.S. astronomers are gathering
terabytes of data into a worldwide “virtual observatory”
that will be accessible to scientists and laymen alike
-Technology Review - Nov.23.02
Observation (in Space
Science section) - involve professional level
projects in which amateurs can participate.
Radio Astronomy - mateurs can also carry out
radio astronomy. See the links in the sub-section
in the Radio page.
- Our SETI page describes several amateur efforts
involving radio astronomy and coherent light detection
to search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
This project was developed by a high school student
"...enable high school students interested in
astronomical observing, to access a telescope with
digital camera in a remote dark location via the internet,
and to pursue basic observational research."
The article Student
behind global telescope network - CNN.com - Apr.13.02
describes how Ryan Hannahoe and other high school students
developed this system to provide high school students
around the world access to a high powered telescope
in an area with little light pollution.
Activities Committee (YouthInAstronomy.org) of the
supports the project.
This UK program allows British students to use world-class
observatories around the world. Observing time is reserved
on the telescopes for student proposed projects.
Robotic Telescope Project
This major project provides access to large telescopes
in Hawaii and Austraila for students in Britain, Australia
and Hawaii. Both telescopes use 2 meter diameter main
mirrors and sophisticated control and imaging systems.
The Robotic Telescope You Control The University
of Glamorgan in Wales will host this new 40.6cm robotic
telescope that students and amateur astronomers will
operate over the Internet.
"Students and astronomers will be able to send
instructions to the control centre which will communicate
them directly to the telescope using Internet technology.
The telescope will then take over, responding to the
series of commands sent each day. "
is home to robotic telescope - BBC - Oct.21.01
"Astronomy, Remote Control Telescopes, Observatories,
View the Universe". This program offers a robotic
telescope service on a commercial basis. Users pay a
subscription fee to access a large telescope on the
In October 2010, Slooh and Google
Earth announced a partnership that combines the
astronomical images generated by Slooh and the Google
Earth sky database:
Slooh also announced the Slooh Space Camera Lanch Cards:
[...] a new retail product sold in RadioShack
and Toys "R" Us stores nationwide for $9.99. The packs
of 10 collectible cards give kids 8+ the chance to explore
the universe by initiating live online missions to outer
space. Each pack of cards come with launch codes specific
to a particular category of celestial objects such as
Star Cities or Sun Clusters. With the "Explore the Unknown"
card kids have the power to discover and photograph
celestial objects never before captured with Slooh's
Space Camera. After punching the launch code into the
online Launch Pad, card-users take control of the telescope
and join 5-minute featured missions into space accompanied
by audio commentary.
More about Slooh:
This is a 46cm telescope in West Yorkshire, England
that is totally autonomous. The telescope
"...decides when the conditions are good enough
to make observations of the sky by itself (an astronomer
does not need to be present)
Anyone on the Internet can register and ask the telescope
to look at anything in the northern night sky. Observations
are automatically prioritised and scheduled and completed
by the telescope as time allows. Other data (weather
information and reports) are obtained and updated
on this site automatically every day..."
The eSTAR Project
The eSTAR (eScience Telescopes for Astronomical Research)
project aims "to build a prototype robotic telescope
network, to test computing infrastructure and software
which could be used for larger scale projects."
watch via the web - BBC - May.3.02
This service provides amateur astronomers with Internet
access "to highly sophisticated remote astronomical
Telescopes In Education (TIE)
This JPL/NASA sponsored program allows students around
the world to access a robotic telescope. The program
"..utilizes a science-grade 24-inch reflecting
telescope located at the Mount Wilson Observatory,
high above the Los Angeles basin in the San Gabriel
Mountains of Southern California. The telescope has
been used by students in grades K-12 to observe galaxies,
nebulae, variable stars, eclipsing binaries, and other
ambitious projects and experiments. Hundreds of schools
in the US and around the world (including Australia,
Canada, England, and Japan) have successfully used
the prototype telescope on Mount Wilson..."
Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope
In this project students gain access to one of NASA's
powerful radio telescope antennas in California. The
students will "collect real-time data with sophisticated
science equipment through distance learning."
The project is run by the Lewis
Center for Educational Research is part of the GLOBE
program to involve students in hands on research.
This optics and telescope company has become a major supplier
of robotic telescope systems. See the article Torus
Technologies Makes Astronomy a "Hands-on" Experience
for Students by Jamie Ambroson - ASP/Mercury - Jan/Feb
| More robotic telescope