When the passion is overwhelming, the hours of sleep lost are countless. In the end, however, the results satisfy the nights spent looking at the stars. There are thousands of Italian amateur astronomers and they obtain important scientific awards. A study carried out by four groups has recently discovered Gunvag3, a binary system of stars in the constellation Auriga 2,100 light years away, confirming the skills of the Italian amateurs’ Union.
Not just observation
Nello Ruocco, 53, a professional nurse, has been directing the Green Ribbon Astronomical Observatory in Sorrento for almost thirty years and more than an amateur astronomer defines himself as an amateur astronomer, as the enthusiasts who go beyond love for sky observation call in the USA night. Ruocco, who participated in the latest discovery, has identified 130 variable stars in his career, although it has now become more difficult. «Against space telescopes any struggle is useless, but for us there are still niches, for example with exoplanets. Professional astronomers are busy with quasars and black holes and leave the data analysis to us. Thanks to these exchanges we have the opportunity to participate in their publications and in Tess, the research program on the planets beyond the solar system ».
Helped by the first lockdown
Giuseppe Conzo, 39, founded the Palidoro di Fiumicino amateur group four years ago, which coordinated the four groups that discovered Gunvag3. “We were helped by the first lockdown,” says the telecommunications engineer who balances his work with a passion for the stars. “Staying indoors for two months allowed us to analyze in depth a mass of data which then led to the discovery of the system of variable stars”. To achieve these results, however, passion is not enough. “We need non-trivial knowledge of photometry, a branch of modern digital astronomy.”
A passion that comes from afar
“My passion for astronomy was born thanks to my grandparents,” says Mara Moriconi, a graduate student in astrophysics at Sapienza in Rome. “I was in elementary school when I was given a game that projected the constellations and planets onto the ceiling of my room. Since then I have always known what I would do: I would have studied the stars ». A passion that starts from afar that of the 22 year old of the Palidoro amateurs group. “I was already studying astronomy, one day I took part in their meeting and since then I have been involved in data analysis to determine the mass, radius and temperature of the new stars we discover”.
“My passion for astronomy was born at the age of 22 while I was attending the Faculty of Law”. Paolo Zampolini is now 33 years old and is a lawyer, lives in Viterbo and together with five friends he founded the Galileo Galilei amateur group in Tarquinia. «We do not devote ourselves to mere observation, but also to research. I dedicate almost all of my free time to this hobby. Even if the means are not those of the professionals, we do our part. We skip many hours of sleep, it is true, but when we discover an object never observed that emitted light thousands of years ago, it is an emotion that repays any sacrifice ». Light pollution is the first enemy of those who observe the sky. “Now the hundreds of Starlink satellites launched by Elon Musk for broadband internet have been added”, explains Ruocco who then confesses his dream. “Discover a comet so I can give it my name. For a nurse like me it wouldn’t be bad “
November 28, 2020 (change November 28, 2020 | 08:07)