Astronomy Citizen Science Citizen Science Connected Blog 

Slavery from Space: Citizen Science in the Antislavery Movement

By Dr. Jessica Wardlaw Slavery from Space is a citizen science project that allows users to further the antislavery movement by mapping the locations of activities in which people are frequently found to be enslaved. How many slaves do you think there are in the world? You might be surprised. In 2016, the International Labour Organization estimated that 40.3 million people were enslaved globally, of which 28.7 million are women and girls and 24.9 million are in forced labor. To put those numbers into perspective, those sums are roughly equivalent…

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Astronomy 

What Does a Black Hole Look Like?

By Steven Spence (@TheStevenSpence) “We ordinary people might lack your great speed or your X-ray vision, Superman, but never underestimate the power of the human mind.” Mark Millar, Superman: Red Son As I write this article, the science community is eagerly awaiting the April 10 press conference of the Event Horizon Telescope. By the time you read this, there will probably be multiple press releases and articles depicting a “photograph” of a black hole [1]. Technically, this will not be entirely true, but it will be a representation of a black…

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Astronomy Chemistry Paleontology 

Exploding Stars and Life on Earth

By Brian C. Thomas (@DrBrianAstroBio) A massive star that exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago—a supernova—may have helped drive the megalodon to extinction and may even have affected human evolution. Research by an international team of scientists and I have produced the most detailed picture ever of just how such a scenario played out. We’ve combined observations from astrophysics and geochemistry with new computer simulations to explore all the possible effects that life on Earth may have experienced. We’ve found that ozone in the atmosphere could have been…

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Astronomy Chemistry 

Two Weeks as a Visiting Astronomer in the Quiet Zone

By Olivia Wilkins (@livwithoutlimit) Pictured in the image above is the Jansky Laboratory, where scientific research is conducted at the Green Bank Observatory, with the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in the background. The Jansky Lab is named for physicist and telephone engineer Karl Guthe Jansky, who in the 1930s first detected radio waves coming from the center of the Milky Way. Image by author. Green Bank, West Virginia is known as “America’s Quietest Town”: there is no cell-phone service, and the use of wireless Internet, digital cameras, and even microwaves…

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Astronomy Citizen Science 

Citizen Scientists Help Solve “Aurora” Mystery

By Kasha Patel Notanee Bourassa knew that what he was seeing in the night sky was not normal. Bourassa, an IT technician in Regina, Canada, trekked outside of his home on July 25, 2016, around midnight with his two younger children to show them a beautiful moving light display in the sky — an aurora borealis. He often sky gazes until the early hours of the morning to photograph the aurora with his Nikon camera, but this was his first expedition with his children. When a thin purple ribbon of…

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Astronomy Physics 

The Science Behind Auroras

By Steven Spence (@TheStevenSpence) The northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis) are fascinating scientifically. In fact, aurora is not unique to the Earth. We have observed aurora in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter and Saturn with various spacecraft and ground-based telescopes. Solar Wind The sun constantly emits streams of particles from its atmosphere out into the solar system. This emission is referred to as the solar wind. Sometimes there are solar storms or solar flares, resulting in heavier emissions than normal. If the Earth passes through one…

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Astronomy Photos Physics Science & Art 

Photographing the Northern Lights in Iceland

By Steven Spence (@TheStevenSpence) For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger; At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, Troop home to churchyards. — Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream Curtains of Light Across the Sky Seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis) has long been on my bucket list. In March 2018 I was fortunate enough to have a break, allowing me to travel solo for some weeks. I headed to Iceland (also on my bucket list), hoping to catch not only the northern…

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In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet -- a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for "scout" or "messenger" -- raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find answers about this unexpected gift from afar. This talk was presented at an official TED conference Astronomy 

Oumuamua: Asteroid from Another Star System

In October 2017, astrobiologist Karen J. Meech got the call every astronomer waits for: NASA had spotted the very first visitor from another star system. The interstellar comet — a half-mile-long object eventually named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for “scout” or “messenger” — raised intriguing questions: Was it a chunk of rocky debris from a new star system, shredded material from a supernova explosion, evidence of alien technology or something else altogether? In this riveting talk, Meech tells the story of how her team raced against the clock to find…

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This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar object discovered in the Solar System, `Oumuamua. Observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and others show that the object is moving faster than predicted while leaving the Solar System. Researchers assume that venting material from its surface due to solar heating is responsible for this behaviour. This outgassing can be seen in this artist’s impression as a subtle cloud being ejected from the side of the object facing the Sun. As outgassing is a behaviour typical for comets, the team thinks that `Oumuamua’s previous classification as an interstellar asteroid has to be corrected. Astronomy 

This Interstellar Asteroid Is Accelerating

By Steven Spence @TheStevenSpence First asteroid of its kind In October 2017, Oumuamua—or 1I/2017 U1—became the first interstellar asteroid detected by humans. It also changed how comets and asteroids are named. Comets’ technical names begin with the letter C, while asteroids have the letter A. Following Oumuamua’s discovery, the International Astronomical Union introduced the letter I to designate interstellar objects. What do we know about Oumuamua? Oumuamua, which means “a messenger from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian, was discovered on October 19, 2017, by the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope.…

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