Astronomy Citizen Science Engages Students During COVID-19

astronomy citizen science

An astronomy citizen science project trained students to classify images as part of a SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program. The aim was to address students’ lack of academic engagement during school and university closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The objective of the citizen science project is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by comparing sky survey images of the 1950s and that of 2015 for identification of changes in the night sky. The online project was carried out in two steps. Step 1: overlay images as carefully as possible. This step trains the underlying artificial intelligence. Step 2: inspect the central star in the old image, and locate if the star still exists or has vanished. A total of 7000 images were matched and 89 objects were observed to have vanished.

A total of 35 university students, teachers, and members of the general public participated in the project.

The astronomy citizen science project, carried out in collaboration with the University of Stockholm, provided all participants with the opportunity to contribute to science. After the project, it was observed that some participants indicated an interest in a career in astronomy.