Amateurs in Space

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It’s January. Do you know where your telescope is? Many a shiny black star finder that showed up under a Christmas tree has already found its way to oblivion in the back of the closet.

But others, set up on their spindly legs, are introducing a new generation to the rings of Saturn, which, it turns out, happen to be at their jauntiest angle right now. And at this very moment, some of those people falling in love with the night sky will stay lovers, amateurs, all their lives.

In most disciplines, the pros and the amateurs keep their distance. But in astronomy, a partnership is emerging where amateurs are doing much of the hard work, watching for asteroids that could imperil our tiny blue planet and helping to map the universe.


Kelly Beatty, executive editor, Sky and Telescope

Timothy Ferris, author, “Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril”

Barbara Wilson, astronomy educator, George Observatory, Houston Museum of Natural Science.