free debate

July 29, 2009

Do you want to get involved in Real Science?

If so, this is your opportunity. A group called Citizen Sky is looking for volunteers to help them study a very interesting and bizarre star system. Regardless of where you live or your background knowledge, they want your help.

Just for a little background: Citizen Sky is studying a star called Epsilon Aurigae. Don't be scared off by the name, because this is a really interesting star system. Just as planets orbit a star, stars can also orbit stars. These are called binary star systems. When one of the stars passes in front of the other, we get an eclipse. When this happens, we see the brightness of the total star system dim. In the case of Epsilon Aurigae we see an eclipse about once 27 years. The really weird thing is that when scientists looked at the spectrum they could only see the light from one star. Since this was discovered, the question has been what is eclipsing this star.

This is where Citizen Sky needs your help. The next eclipse is predicted to start this August. They are looking for people to help them with everything from making the observations (which you don't need any special equipment for) to studying the data and doing outreach. Citizen Sky will give you all of the skills you need to help them out, so no background knowledge or experience is necessary. Projects like this is a great way to really understand the process, and sheer joy of science.

For more information I recommend the July 7 episode of the 365 Days of Astronomy
To get involved go to