Amateur AstronomyMain article: Amateur astronomy
Astronomy is one of the sciences to which amateurs can contribute the most.
Collectively, amateur astronomers observe a variety of celestial objects and phenomena sometimes with equipment that they build themselves. Common targets of amateur astronomers include the Moon, planets, stars, comets, meteor showers, and a variety of deep-sky objects such as star clusters, galaxies, and nebulae. One branch of amateur astronomy, amateur astrophotography, involves the taking of photos of the night sky. Many amateurs like to specialize in the observation of particular objects, types of objects, or types of events which interest them.
Most amateurs work at visible wavelengths, but a small minority experiment with wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. This includes the use of infrared filters on conventional telescopes, and also the use of radio telescopes. The pioneer of amateur radio astronomy was Karl Jansky, who started observing the sky at radio wavelengths in the 1930s. A number of amateur astronomers use either homemade telescopes or use radio telescopes which were originally built for astronomy research but which are now available to amateurs (e.g. the One-Mile Telescope).
Amateur astronomers continue to make scientific contributions to the field of astronomy. Indeed, it is one of the few scientific disciplines where amateurs can still make significant contributions. Amateurs can make occultation measurements that are used to refine the orbits of minor planets. They can also discover comets, and perform regular observations of variable stars. Improvements in digital technology have allowed amateurs to make impressive advances in the field of astrophotography.
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Famous quotes containing the words astronomy and/or amateur:
“It is noticed, that the consideration of the great periods and spaces of astronomy induces a dignity of mind, and an indifference to death.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“I have been reporting club meetings for four years and I am tired of hearing reviews of the books I was brought up on. I am tired of amateur performances at occasions announced to be for purposes either of enjoyment or improvement. I am tired of suffering under the pretense of acquiring culture. I am tired of hearing the word culture used so wantonly. I am tired of essays that let no guilty author escape quotation.”
—Josephine Woodward, U.S. author. As quoted in Everyone Was Brave, ch. 3, by William L. ONeill (1969)