Thursday, September 21, 2006

Listening to BBC's Discovery

I'm listening to BBC's Discovery on the radio now. For the past three weeks, the show has been talking to ordinary people in the UK who are citizen scientists. The edition I'm listening to right now is about something close to my heart - amateur astronomy! You can listen to it on the BBC website. From BBC Discovery:
Every fine evening, when most people thinking of bed, a few hardy enthusiasts slip out of their back doors and down to a shed at the bottom of their garden. For the next few hours they become scientific explorers, scanning the sky for a big discovery that might bring them fame – though seldom fortune. In Discovery this week Sue Nelson joins these ‘Citizen Scientists’ as they patiently search the heavens for sights no human has witnessed before.

The late George Alcock was an example of the classic type of amateur enthusiast who made a real contribution to astronomy. In 1959 he discovered the first new comet found from Britain since 1894. Five days later he found another! Over 40 years as an observer he clocked up a total of 5 comets and 5 exploding stars or supernovae. He did so the old-fashioned way, by memorising the position and brightness of over 30 000 stars and scanning the sky for changes using binoculars.
It's really inspiring listening to my fellow astronomers on the show. I think I should take out my telescopes more often.


Giselle Loh said...

Yes, you should IZ. And bring me along too.

Giselle Loh said...


Shy said...

IZ: When you taking us gals out for a night of stargazing?

Anonymous said...

I love stars so much I am one.