Citizen scientists comb through data from distant stars, discover five planets

In a first for citizen science, a team of amateur astronomers—comprising thousands of volunteers—has discovered an entire planetary system, BBC News reports. The group of five planets, all smaller than Neptune, was found by citizen scientists scouring data from NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which measures light from distant stars. The volunteers flagged times when a star dimmed—a potential sign that an orbiting planet passed in front of it. The discovery was announced this week at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.

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