One of the absolute COOLEST things about the world we live in is how science has “changed”.
Ok…science hasn’t changed…it’s still science. But the ability of “the common man” to participate has skyrocketed in just the last decade. The rapid information exchange afforded by the internet, peer to peer technologies, and crowdsourcing have delivered us a world in which anyone anywhere can contribute to meaningful science.
Websites abound encouraging “citizen scientists” to apply their resources…computers, networks, spare CPU cycles, their own analyses and observations…to scientific projects.
One of the most intriguing mysteries of the last 100 years, an otherwise insignificant little F-Type star known as KIC 8462852, or the WTF Star (cute, huh?), was indeed “discovered” (or at least, its weird behaviour was) by citizen scientists.
Last night, I got to participate in further observations of this enigmatic little critter!
This is a 5-day plot of the star’s magnitude, in Red, Blue, and Green wavelengths. Look there on the right…it looks like MAYBE this sucker’s at it again!
No…we don’t KNOW if another dip is beginning. Yes, it’s ENTIRELY possible (indeed likely) that this is just a temporary “blip on the radar”. Yes, we need to wait a few more days to be sure.
But you know what we need most?
And that’s where we humble little “citizen scientists” come in. 🙂
Last night, AAVSO put out a call for amateur observations of Tabby’s star. Fate has smiled upon the foolish, and sees me with (according to the forecast anyway) a few clear nights coming up, and in need of a new target.
Soooooo…hustle out to TinyObs, fire things up, and BAM! I’m sciencing!
Nondescript little critter, isn’t it?
Will my data be used? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. Will it show anything if it is? Don’t know. Is this a dip? Not sure. Will we learn anything from it if it is? No clue.
And THAT, boys and girls, is the point. We have a bunch of questions, and very few answers…and our species has reached a point in its evolution that any one of us that wants to can go poke the weird thing with a stick, and contribute to finding some.
More to come!