Citizen Science refers to any scientific work performed by somebody who is not a professional scientist. These days, we usually think of citizen scientists as people contributing a few minutes of their day in some massive distributed project. They’ll perform simple tasks through a website or app, and the collected results from all the volunteers around the world make a valuable contribution to some serious research.
But we believe that this is only the latest, most modern form of citizen science – anybody volunteering their time or expertise to assist “real” researchers is a citizen scientist. Anybody collecting data or processing results voluntarily, outside of traditional academic or private research organizations, is a citizen scientist. Any amateur astronomer measuring variable stars, or counting meteors, or reporting their observations to a professional body, is a citizen scientist.
The Citizen Science Section
The Citizen Science section of the Astronomical Society of South Africa exists to promote citizen science, We do this on two levels:
- We want to help volunteers find projects where they can do the most good with the time, skills and resources they’re willing to share.
- Show off our participation as a society, by recording which projects are supported by our members, and announcing their achievements (awards, special results, publications, etc)
Citizen scientists are a lot more effective when researchers set up projects for them to join. We maintain a list of projects that we support as a society, and offer our own assistance for anybody who would like to create a project but isn’t sure how to proceed.