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Backyard Astronomers Discover Black Holes and Other Wonders

Photo: VOA
Backyard astronomer Gus Johnson

Laurel Bowman | Swanton, Maryland

Amateur astronomer Gus Johnson didn’t set out to witness what scientists say is the first ever observed birth of a black hole. But that’s just what he did in 1979. His discovery of Supernova 1979c was only the third supernova in another galaxy ever detected by an amateur. But it has become one of the most important and studied since. Amateur astronomers have been making discoveries for at least 400 years, dating to Galileo’s spotting of Jupiter’s moons. The hobby helps professional scientists every day.

Johnson likes the quiet and he likes the dark. But clouds and sub-zero temperatures are working against him as he stargazes near his home in Western Maryland.

“Well, Jupiter went behind a cloud so we have the moon,” said Johnson.

Johnson has been stargazing for 50 years, and tonight he’s invited some kids to join him. He has a near photographic memory of hundreds of star positions and he loves to share what he knows.

Read the full article here.

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