Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
I think Amber Robot's point about astrophysics research being a full-time job is very pertinent. I'd love to dive into the mass of wonderfully free data that is out there and develop something that was previously unknown, but time is a highly limiting factor. Also, grad students are typically given worthwhile projects or problems to investigate by their adviser or mentor. Amateurs do not have the broad knowledge of the advising tenured prof to know what makes an interesting and worthwhile project to work on. I think they could really use a mentor.
Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
The quandary here is real - there are people who have the interest and capability to contribute to science, but there is a real argument that until their results are made public they cannot contribute to Science at large. It is a fair question to wonder what barriers here could be lowered.
Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
There's no actual reason why an amateur couldn't contribute as much to the science of astronomy as a professional can. The contribution should be judged on its merit, not the history/training/education of the contributor.
Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
I guess the point I was trying to make was that, unlike other fields, the *universe* is the final arbiter of "truth", not the astronomical community, so if an amateur or outsider can produce a quality piece of scientific work that holds up to the scrutiny of the universe itself (i.e., observational data) then it has to be respected by the professionals.
I kinda vaguely remembered that there was a thread, or something, on providing something like the advice (etc) Cougar mentions, but I couldn't find it.

But, given how many CQuestians hold masters or PhDs, and how many are, or were, professional astronomers, I thought, "well, maybe the CQ forum can stand in for 'advising tenured profs'?" So I went and created this thread: Fascinating Research Ideas For Citizen Scientists ...