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'Most discoveries will be made by amateurs'

Universe is the limit for backyard astronomers

Southbridge resident Dino Tata with some of his gear. He’s a member of the regional Aldrich Astronomy Society and a volunteer in NASA’s Solar System Ambassador outreach program. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
January 29, 2012
There are new worlds out there — way out there — and you can help find them.

That's the basic premise of a year-old Yale University-based effort called Planet Hunters. Instead of just relying on already-overburdened professional scientists to seek evidence of distant worlds, this project makes the same data available online to everyday citizens with an interest in space science.

"It's so hard to sort through it, but when you have 170,000 friends, it's a lot easier," said project scientist Megan Schwamb, a National Science Foundation post-doc fellow at Yale. "... [Searching this way,] somebody sitting on their couch at home is the first person to know there's a planet orbiting some other star."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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