This week’s meeting: the pros & cons of pro/am collaboration

Professional / amateur collaboration in science, and astronomy in particular, is the discussion topic for this Thursday’s astronomy twitter journal club, starting at 20:10 GMT. @SamHawkins, who proposed this topic, explains more:

Astronomy is one of the few branches of science to which amateurs regularly contribute significant observations and discoveries. For decades amateurs and professionals have worked together on research projects to compute the orbits of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), monitor active regions on the Sun, as well as variable stars of various types as they fluctuate in magnitude. We have also long studied the extra-terrestrial storm systems that grow and subside on the gas giants, and more recently amateurs have used relatively inexpensive equipment to discover extra-solar planets. These ‘pro-am’ collaborations can be effective when organised well, but I often wonder what could be done to improve them. Have they ever failed? Why? What areas of astronomy have benefited from such efforts? And do amateurs deserve more recognition? During this Twitter meeting we’ll discuss the pros and cons of pro-am collaboration in astronomy, and then some.

@ThilinaH kindly pointed out these slides from the UNAWE project which give some background to the subject:

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