Gifts for Astrophysicists: Amateur observations of twinkling stars

As the holidays and the new year approaches, why not make a resolution to give more… data? The economics of science limits what scientists can do on their own. If you’re an amateur astronomer, why not share your data on the twinkling stars?

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Mars One Candidates by the Numbers, for the Numbers

Mars One Candidates by the Numbers, for the Numbers

Mars One is offering the world's media exclusive access to the video interviews with its Round 2 candidates. The press release included a spreadsheet of candidates' nationalities and countries of residence. Here's my quick pass at the numbers and what they might mean for the candidates.

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When Rocks Fall Like Rain

When Rocks Fall Like Rain

556 asteroids struck Earth over the past 20 years according to a new report from Nasa’s Near Earth Object Program. Fortunately the constant rain of rocks and boulders striking our planet burn up in the atmosphere - unless it’s a big one like the Chelyabinsnk meteor. Learn how you can help the professionals protect our planet from asteroid threats.

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Help find comets skimming by the Sun

Help find comets skimming by the Sun

The Sungrazer Project crowdsources discoveries of comets - over 2,700 of them - from anyone with access to the Internet. Review images collected by Nasa’s solar observatories, find signs of comets skimming over the Sun’s surface, and report your findings… for science!

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Become a quake-spotter and monitor our shaking, quaking, not-so-solid Earth

Become a quake-spotter and monitor our shaking, quaking, not-so-solid Earth

Almost 26 million people around the world joined the Great Shake Out today to improve earthquake readiness. But once you’ve prepared for an earthquake, what can you do the other 364 days in the year? Take a look at these amateur projects that let you take part in studying our not-so-solid Earth.

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Celebrate World Space Week with these GPS-enabled space exploration projects

Celebrate World Space Week with these GPS-enabled space exploration projects

World Space Week 2014, the global celebration of all things space, chose the theme “Space: Guiding the Way” to raise awareness of the role satellite navigation systems play in our lives. In honor of World Space Week, here's a collection of GPS-enabled amateur space exploration projects you can join. Track balloons flying into Near Space; crowdsource aurora, weather, and cosmic ray data; or create your own GPS apps for Nasa.

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Free online courses for amateur space explorers

Free online courses for amateur space explorers

Want to learn more about planetary science and astronomy? Top universities around the world run open online courses that anyone can take - free of charge. You won't get credit or a degree from CalTech or MIT, but you get to learn about space and our place in it from the top scientists in the world.

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Make stellar images with the Bradford Robotic Telescope

Make stellar images with the Bradford Robotic Telescope

I didn't have to spend $10,000 on my own telescope to create this image of the Orion Nebula. Thanks to the Bradford Robotic Telescope it only cost me £3 (about $5). Created by scientists at the University of Bradford to support British primary and secondary schools, anyone can subscribe to their service and create dozens of images every month.

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Learn how to find space rocks with the Asteroid Observer's Program

Learn how to find space rocks with the Asteroid Observer's Program

Learn how to find asteroids and comets through the Amateur Observer’s Program. Tracking the faint points of light moving slowly across the night sky doesn’t just challenge your amateur astronomy skills - professional astronomers depend on amateurs to make observations they can’t do themselves.

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MilkyWay@home's volunteers rescue the crowdsourced search for dark matter

MilkyWay@home's volunteers rescue the crowdsourced search for dark matter

The MilkyWay@home Project lets more than 160,000 amateur space explorers create a virtual global supercomputer that’s mapping the Milky Way’s invisible dark matter and simulating the Galaxy’ collisions with other galaxies. Now America’s science funding crunch puts MilkyWay@home in jeopardy. Can the crowdsourced project’s volunteer community come to the rescue?

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Weekend Amateur: Observing the Sculptor Galaxy with Nasa

Weekend Amateur: Observing the Sculptor Galaxy with Nasa

Observing With Nasa lets you control a robotic telescope to capture your own images of planets, comets, and distant galaxies. Not just a fun way to make pretty astronomy pictures, Observing With Nasa lets teachers, parents, and informal educators introduce the science of astronomy to middle and high school students.

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Space images lets you see burning oil fields around the world and close to home

Space images lets you see burning oil fields around the world and close to home

SkyTruth’s Global Flaring Visualization project maps nighttime satellite images of the Earth to show the full extent of the oil industry’s natural gas flaring - a practice that wastes billions of dollars and adds to our carbon footprint.

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Amateurs help Nasa discover space dust

Amateurs help Nasa discover space dust

Nasa's longest-lasting crowdsourced space exploration projects, Stardust@Home, discovered evidence of interstellar dust particles. Scientists could not have done this work without the thousands of amateur space explorers who reviewed millions of images to find traces of the microscopic particles.

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Shoemaker Levy 9's Anniversary Ends, but its Impact Continues

Shoemaker Levy 9's Anniversary Ends, but its Impact Continues

20 years ago amateur astronomers David H Levy and Carolyn and Gene Shoemaker discovered a comet - shattered into dozens of mountain-sized pieces - heading for Jupiter. The first piece of the comet slammed into Jupiter on July 16, 1994. Yesterday marked the anniversary of the final impact into the gas giant, but its impact here on Earth was more enduring.

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