APR 29, 2015 6:58 AM PDT

Citizen Stargazers Find Supernovas

All over the world there are thousands of astronomy enthusiasts, from dedicated hardcore hobbyists with their own computers and high powered telescopes to basic backyard stargazers.
Siding Spring Observatory Australia is home to the SkyMapper Telescope and kangaroos too.
Thanks to a massive citizen science initiative, over 40,000 of these star fans have helped to classify over 2 million celestial objects and, even more amazing, actually identified five never before seen supernovas.

The project was established at the Australian National University and asked volunteers to look through images taken by the SkyMapper telescope with an eye to new objects and a special focus on finding new supernovas.

Volunteers used theZooniverse platform (run by the University of Oxford), which has hosted many citizen space projects in the past.

Richard Scalzo, a researcher working with the SkyMapper telescope at the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said in a statement from ANU "It was a huge success. Everyone was really excited to take part."

The five newly discovered supernovas have already made their way into a cosmological study of dark energy by the SkyMapper scientists, but Scalzo said there is more work to be done before the results of that study are published and that more citizen stargazers will be needed.
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  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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