Astronomy is special. It is one of the few (only?) areas of science, where amateurs actually contribute. It is difficult to imagine groups of amateur geneticists mapping the human genome, but you will find countless amateur astronomers monitoring the skies for supernovae, asteroids, comets etc.

Recently, a bunch of amateur astronomers in Canada, won a competition to use the 8 metre Gemini telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The contest required scientific proposals to be submitted by amateur groups and the winning observations were chosen on scientific merit. There were observations on two telescopes up for grabs; Gemini North and the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope. The winners, of time on Gemini North, were Club dastronomie de Dorval in Quebec and they observed a stellar nursery named RY Tau (in the constellation of Taurus). The image they got was stunning and I have included it below. It is worth clicking on the image to visit the Gemini site and see the Pleiades image taken by the Big Sky Astronomical Society of Vulcan, Alberta who won time on the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope.

In other amateur news, the Astronomical League (a group of amateur associations in the US) recently announced the winners of its '2005 National Young Astronomer' award. The top winner was Christopher Limbach who is a high school student in Wisconsin. He has been making studies of the light curves of eclipsing binaries from his backyard! Impressive.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Saturday 21st May 2005 (23:26 UTC) | Permalink
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