24 July 2017

Hurrah for amateur astronomers!

Today I would like to mention an interesting scientific paper I read recently. And if someone of you is Amateur astronomer, you will like this one. It shows how Amateur astronomers are important. I use present tense because amateur astronomers are still important for science today.
Vaquero, Vázquez and Sánchez Almeida published confirmation the observation of their ‘astronomical ancestor.' The paper has been issued in a scientific journal, Solar Physics.
The event they discussed, a flare, did not cause any trouble on the Earth. And if this astronomical ancestor did not watch the Sun at a happy moment, the flare would pass unnoticed. But that time, someone was watching, and a flare was observed and reported.
Today, scientists would classify such flare as White-light Flare. This means, that when a flare happens, it is visible. For those who do not know what that means, the flare emits lights we can see. And yes, there is loads of light, i.e. electromagnetic spectrum that we cannot see. When we make a comparison with the sound, the amount of the light we see is comparable with the length of one octave. Really small range.
Anyway, during the flare, a region on the Sun brightens, indicating that some kind of solar activity is underway.
Today, we can measure the magnetic field involved with the flare, and observe flare across the EM spectrum. Registering its emissions across the spectrum give us way more information about what is going on. And ultimately, it will help us predict the next flares.
I already discussed why we are observing solar activity. In this post, I wish to emphasize the importance of amateur astronomers. Today, most of the amateurs track asteroids and comets. The famous Schumacher-Levy comet that hit the Jupiter in 1990th was observed and named by amateur astronomers.
Those amateur astronomers are part of our first line of the asteroid defense today. Their contribution to the constant scanning of the sky for potential threats is crucial.
So allow me to make a virtual bow of the respect for the amateur astronomers. (BTW. If you, as amateur astronomer find a new object you reserve right to name it. That is the only way you can name something in the sky. The sites who sell stars are cons.)
So I would encourage you to volunteer with some of the public scientific initiatives. There are many of them so you can pick and choose what would you like. This kind of involvement will help you understand what science is and how it works.

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