People around the world have been told to stay home to slow the novel coronavirus pandemic. While it’s important to stay home both for your health and for your community, it can also be frustrating, boring, and even lonely. But even if you’re stuck inside, you can still be active in the astronomical community through citizen science. Here are some of the best space-related projects you can participate in from the safety of your home.
Consider, for example, Zooniverse. The list of astronomy projects is seemingly endless. Have you always wanted to discover a new planet? Planet Hunters wants your help. Use data from the recently launched TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) to find light patterns that computer algorithms are not sensitive enough to detect.
Or maybe gravitational waves are more your style? Sort through LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) sound waves with Gravity Spy. By participating, you can improve our ability to detect the space-time shock waves of astronomical collisions.
Zooniverse has a project for everyone. NASA is searching for Planet 9, the long-rumored stellar object beyond Neptune. Galaxy Zoo seeks to improve our knowledge of galactic formation. Star Notes honors early female astronomers while expanding our understanding of the universe.
Zooniverse isn’t the only resource for space projects. Cosmoquest works with NASA to identify interesting features in our solar system.
In some places, it is permitted to leave your house for fresh air and exercise (as opposed to only essential groceries and medicine). If it’s safe in your area, you can still observe the night sky, as long as you practice social distancing. With Globe at Night, you can map local constellations before moonrise and add your observations to thousands of other citizen scientist data points. These constellations are visible with the naked eye, so this project doesn’t even require a telescope.
Whatever your passion, you’re not alone. Professionals and amateur enthusiasts are connecting all over the world through science, which is a connection we need now more than ever. We may be practicing social distancing, but perhaps the current pandemic can bring us together in new ways to answer some of the biggest questions in the universe.
April was SciStarter’s Citizen Science Month! Check it out at https://scistarter.org/citizensciencemonth
More citizen science projects in astronomy: Gravity Spy: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zooniverse/gravity-spy
LIGO E-lab: https://www.i2u2.org/elab/ligo/home/project.jsp
Space Warps: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/aprajita/space-warps-hsc
Planet Hunters: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/nora-dot-eisner/planet-hunters-tess/about/research
Planet Four: Terrains: http://terrains.planetfour.org/
The Great World-Wide Star Count: http://www.windows2universe.org/starcount/
Agent Exoplanet: http://portal.lcogt.net/agentexoplanet/
NASA Citizen Science projects: https://science.nasa.gov/citizenscience
Galaxy Cruise https://galaxycruise.mtk.nao.ac.jp/en/index.html