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PhilCo126
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Reged: 01/14/05

Loc: coastline of Belgium
Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers
      #5085595 - 02/22/12 01:09 PM

I'm trying to compile a listing of "firsts" in the many fields amateur-astronomers are involved:

Amateur astronomy accomplishments
Compiled by Philip Corneille

Since 1979, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) awarded the Amateur Achievement Award for significant observational or technical achievements by an amateur astronomer.

Aurorae & noctilucent clouds:
Auroral activity has always amazed amateur-astronomers, especially the Scandinavians.
URSA = Ursa Astronomical Association

Comets:
In March 1993, together with David Levy, Carolyn & Gene Shoemaker discovered comet Shoemaker-Levy-9 (D/1993 – F2) which impacted the planet Jupiter in July 1994.

Exo-planets:
In September 2003, using a C14 & SBIG ST-7 CCD camera, Belgian amateur astronomer Tonny Vanmunster observed the transit of HD 209458b in front of its parent star.
Other amateur-astronomer who co-discovered exo-planets include: Ron Bissinger (USA), Bruce Gary (USA), Chris Holmes (Great Britain), Paul Howell (USA), Peter Jalowiczor (Great Britain), Jennie McCormick (New Zealand), Rolf Olsen (New Zealand).
Systemic is an amateur extrasolar planet search project.

Galaxy Zoo:
In the age of the WWW, amateur-astronomers made some online discoveries:
In 2007, Dutch amateur-astronomer Hanny Van Arkel found a “Hanny’s object” a gas-cloud heated by a black hole in the constellation Leo Minor.
Many contributors discovered unusual “Green Pea” objects which were categorized as a distinct group of galaxies.

Meteors:
Large amateur-astronomer societies have Meteor monitoring groups.
AMS = American Meteor Society (since 1911)
IMO = International Meteor Organization (since 1988)

Moon:
During the 1950s, British amateur-astronomer Sir Patrick Moore mapped the nearside of the Moon and especially the far edges thanks to the oscillationg motion (Libration) which allows us to see 59% of the Moon’s surface. His detailed observations were used in the preparations for (un-)manned missions to the Moon.

Occultations:
Observations of Lunar & minor planet occultations yielded evidence for satellites of minor planets long before the Galileo spacecraft photographed Dactyl as a satellite of asteroid 243 Ida in August 1993 (discovered on photos in February 1994).
ILOC = International Lunar Occultation Center
IOTA = International Occultation Timing Association

Planets:
In June 2009, Australian amateur-astronomer Anthony Wesley observed a flash of a collision onto the cloud deck of the planet Jupiter.
ALPO = Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers

Sun:
In 1981, the Royal Observatory of Belgium founded the Sunspot Index Data Center (SIDC).
The German VdS Vereinigung der Sternfreunde made long-time contributions to solar observing.

Supernovae:
Most nova were discovered by accident:
In 1054, Arab and Chinese astronomers observed SN 1052 (Crab nebula) in the constellation Taurus.
In 1572, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe saw SN 1572 in the constellation Cassiopeia.
In 1942, a Japanese schoolgirl Kuniko Sofue observed Nova Puppis 1942 (CP Puppis in Argo Navis).
In 1981, Australian amateur-astronomer Robert Evans observed his first supernova in a series of ten official discoveries.
In 2011, Canadian amateur-astronomer Dave Lane observed 2010lt which was found on photos by 10-year old schoolgirl Kathryn Gray discovered in the constellation Camelopardalis

Telescope design:
In the late 1950s, Canadian amateur-astronomer John Dobson revolutionized observing with the invention of the affordable Dobson reflector, used for side walk astronomy. He discovered 22 comets.

Variable stars:
Several amateur-astronomers joined up in societies to monitor variable stars.
AAVSO = American Association of Variable Star Observers
AFOEV = Association Francaise d’Observateurs d’Etoiles Variables
ASSA = Astronomical Society of Southern Africa
BAV = Bundesdeutsche Arbeidsgemeinschaft fur Veranderliche Sterne
CBA = Center for Backyard Astrophysics
IAPPP = International Amateur-Professional Photoelectric Photometry
RASNZ = Variable Star section of Royal Astronomical Society New Zealand

Contributions & corrections welcome !


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #5085770 - 02/22/12 02:58 PM

I believe the Soap Bubble nebula was an amateur discovery. See the July 2010 issue of Sky & Telescope.

Amateur astronomer Grote Reber was a pioneer in radio astronomy. I think he's credited with radio astronomy's first sky survey.

Geoff

Edited by barasits (02/22/12 03:07 PM)


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David Knisely
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #5085967 - 02/22/12 04:48 PM

PhilCo126 wrote:

Quote:

Telescope design:
In the late 1950s, Canadian amateur-astronomer John Dobson revolutionized observing with the invention of the affordable Dobson reflector, used for side walk astronomy. He discovered 22 comets.




Actually, John Dobson was born in China and then moved to San Francisco, California, so he wasn't Canadian. Also, I do not believe that John has discovered many comets (let alone 22 of them). Clear skies to you.


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
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Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5086434 - 02/22/12 10:05 PM

Yeah, the Canadian connection took me a bit aback, too.

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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5086512 - 02/22/12 10:57 PM

There's ample evidence that native American Indians on this side of the pond also recorded the Crab Nebula supernova of 1054 AD in their rock art.

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Rick Woods
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Reged: 01/27/05

Loc: Inner Solar System
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5086580 - 02/23/12 12:02 AM

Also, who was that guy who discovered a small nebula near Orion a few years ago, and now it's named after him? I can't believe I don't remember his name! He discovered it on an image he took with a small apo.

And let us not forget amateurs such as Galileo, Herschel, and Lord Rosse, and all the stuff they discovered.


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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5086581 - 02/23/12 12:03 AM

Jennie McCormick is not really an amateur - her gear has been provided by CBA and Ohio State University to collect data for them. That in my mind makes her professional.

Stu Parker (of NZ) is truely an amateur (full-time farmer) who has discovered several Supernovae.

I can think of a few more NZ amateurs - where to start


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Rick Woods
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Reged: 01/27/05

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Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: gavinm]
      #5087202 - 02/23/12 12:43 PM

I'm an amateur, and I discovered that I can't really afford this hobby!

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FeynmanFan
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Reged: 02/18/11

Loc: N Colo front range
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5087665 - 02/23/12 05:20 PM

I remember reading quite some time ago of a fellow in New Zealand, a man of the cloth, I believe, who discovered many supernovae. It was said that he had committed lots of star fields to memory, so he easily recognized anything new. Since I don't remember his name, my memory is clearly nothing like his. Rev. Knowles sticks in my head, but I may well be wrong.

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gavinm
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/26/05

Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: FeynmanFan]
      #5087728 - 02/23/12 05:55 PM

There is Rev Robert Evans - discovered 43 supernovae, but he's Australian - better not get that confused

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FeynmanFan
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Reged: 02/18/11

Loc: N Colo front range
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: gavinm]
      #5087812 - 02/23/12 06:39 PM

Quote:

he's Australian - better not get that confused




Dang right! I'd hate to see my avatar go down in flames. Now I remember Rev Knowles is the man who instructed me prior to my confirmation. I was only off by 12,000 mi.


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barasits
sage


Reged: 06/12/11

Loc: Chicago
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: FeynmanFan]
      #5087877 - 02/23/12 07:16 PM

Quote:

...I was only off by 12,000 mi.




That's a bull's eye in astronomical terms.

Geoff


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PhilCo126
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/14/05

Loc: coastline of Belgium
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: barasits]
      #5088465 - 02/24/12 08:10 AM

Interesting weblink: http://www.astronomynow.com/books/BAA%20DVD.html

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Ptarmigan
Lagopus lagopus
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Reged: 09/23/04

Loc: Arctic
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5092627 - 02/26/12 05:31 PM

Same with the 1006 AD supernova near Beta Lupi. It is the brightest supernova known.

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Jason H.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/07

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #5098479 - 02/29/12 10:05 PM

Mikolaj Kopernik (A.K.A. Nicolaus Copernicus) was an amateur astronomer.

Jason H.


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StupendousMan
super member


Reged: 08/21/05

Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5114271 - 03/09/12 10:33 PM

Quote:

Also, who was that guy who discovered a small nebula near Orion a few years ago, and now it's named after him? I can't believe I don't remember his name! He discovered it on an image he took with a small apo.




Jay McNeil.


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nytecam
Postmaster


Reged: 08/20/05

Loc: London UK
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #5115064 - 03/10/12 12:09 PM

Interesting 'list' Phil if incredibly American biased. To include meteors and aurora etc without unique discoveries is pointless - these have all been observered since antiquity.

You may like to check the Royal Astro Soc [London] founded 1820 and British Astronomical Association [BAA] founded 1890 for some firsts - the latter to include current top amateur SN discoverer Tom Boles. I'm sure other national amateur bodies around the would could add to the list. Virtually ALL astronomers pre-1890 were amateurs. Good luck in your quest


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lunar
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 07/03/10

Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5118410 - 03/12/12 12:08 PM

Quote:

Also, who was that guy who discovered a small nebula near Orion a few years ago, and now it's named after him? I can't believe I don't remember his name! He discovered it on an image he took with a small apo.




I believe you're referring to McNeil's Nebula? It's a variable nebula in M78 that was discovered by Jay McNeil with a small 3" Apo-refractor while he was testing it out for the first time.

Here's an image by Adam Block & a bit of background on the region: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap040219.html


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PhilCo126
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/14/05

Loc: coastline of Belgium
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: lunar]
      #5221742 - 05/14/12 11:42 AM

Another opportunity for Amateur-astronomers:
A partnership with the UK’s Faulkes Telescope Project promises to boost the Agency’s space hazards research while helping students to discover potentially dangerous space rocks.
ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme is keeping watch over space hazards, including disruptive space weather, debris objects in Earth orbit and asteroids that pass close enough to cause concern.
So ESA is turning to amateur astronomers to ‘crowdsource’ observations as part of Europe’s contribution to the global asteroid hunt. These efforts will add to the follow-up observations already done at ESA’s own telescope on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.


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PhilCo126
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/14/05

Loc: coastline of Belgium
Re: Discoveries made by Amateur-astronomers new [Re: PhilCo126]
      #5273169 - 06/15/12 04:10 PM

Check:
The Prairie Astronomy Club: Fifty Years of Amateur Astronomy
by Mark Dahmke


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