25 September 2023

ANU sees way clear to world record

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The Australian National University (ANU) has smashed its own stargazing Guinness World Records title, with more than 40,000 people across hundreds of locations in Australia looking at the Moon at the same time last week (23 May).

This established a new Guinness record for the “Most People Stargazing at Multiple Venues” — five times greater than the number of people involved in the previous record.

Astronomer at ANU, Anais Möller said citizen scientists also searched through images from the ANU SkyMapper telescope to help astronomers identify two new Type Ia supernovae, which are exploding stars scientists use to measure the universe.

Dr Möller and another ANU astronomer, Brad Tucker led the citizen science project, which was part of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Stargazing Live broadcast.

“I’m amazed that more than 6,000 volunteers have helped us over three days to make more than 1,700,000 classifications in our search for exploding stars in the universe,” Dr Möller said.

“A professional astronomer would need nearly two years to do the same amount of work, so it’s an incredible achievement.”

Dr Tucker said the fact that tens of thousands of citizens took part in the citizen science project and the stargazing world record effort was amazing.

“Events like the world record attempt and asking for help with searching for new exploding stars just goes to show that science is really for everyone,” Dr Tucker said.

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