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Community Highlight​s

Watcher of the Month

Watchers can apply/nominate others for a chance to be featured here as well as in our monthly newsletter. To sign up for the monthly newsletters, subscribe in the sidebar or follow the instructions here.

Miracle Chibuzor Marcel (He/Him/His)

Miracle Chibuzor Marcel
Image Credit: Miracle Chibuzor Marcel, used here with permission

Astrophysicist, Teacher, Citizen Scientist, Science Communicator - Nigeria

What kind of telescope do you use to observe exoplanets?

“The MicroObservatory and the 0.4m Las Cumbres Observatory."

What inspires you about studying exoplanets?

“Exoplanets have fascinated me since I was young. Growing up, I learned that the Sun is a star with planets orbiting it. This led me to realize that all the stars we see at night are suns, likely with planets around them, and some of these planets could potentially harbor life. This thought captivated me and motivated me to study Physics and Astronomy. I am looking forward to pursuing a PhD in Planetary Astrophysics. I also have an interest in all areas of astrophysics because the field is incredibly inspiring.”

What inspires you about participating in citizen science?

“As someone with a research interest in Astrophysics, I have always wanted to gain hands-on experience in the field. However, studying this course in Africa comes with challenges, including a lack of equipment. Most of my experience has been theoretical. Citizen Science offers the public the opportunity to contribute to scientific research, and I see it as a great opportunity to acquire research skills that I did not gain in college. It has been worthwhile.

My journey in citizen science began during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 with the Asteroid Search run by the International Astronomical Search Collaboration. After that, I acquired skills in deep-space image processing, also known as Astrophoto Visual Development, to produce colorful visuals. I am adept at processing images from ground-based telescopes like the Las Cumbres Observatory and space telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope using free and open-source software.

Committed to continuous learning, I explored NASA's Exoplanet Watch projects, double star research, variable star research, and ARISS-Amateur Radio contact with astronauts aboard the International Space Station, where I am currently involved.

I co-founded an online educational platform called the Pan-African Citizen Science e-Lab (PACS e-Lab) with my enthusiastic team to spread these skills in Africa. Today, PACS e-Lab is the most thriving platform in Africa, engaging teachers, students, and space enthusiasts in citizen science projects and soft astronomy research. My team and I have voluntarily engaged thousands of individuals across national space agencies, colleges, national astronomy organizations, secondary schools, and more across 40 African countries. We aim to cover all 54 countries in Africa soon. We also work with remote telescopes like the Las Cumbres Observatory, Micro Observatory, and the Slooh telescope for astronomical data acquisition.

Our efforts contribute to addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including but not limited to Quality Education (SDG 4), Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Reduced Inequality (SDG 10), Building Strong Institutions (SDG 16), and Partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17). Please refer to our paper, “Pan-African Citizen Science e-Lab: An Emerging Online Platform for Astronomy Education and Research in Africa” which should be out by the end of 2024, [and learn more about PACS e-Lab online.] We are open to collaboration and sharing our skills and knowledge with the world.”

What else would you like us to know about you?

"I am passionate about leveraging scientific knowledge in Physics and Astronomy to benefit African communities, and I am particularly dedicated to promoting STEM education and outreach in underrepresented regions. My experience co-founding the Pan-African Citizen Science e-Lab and engaging thousands of individuals across Africa showcases my commitment to making STEM accessible and inspiring the next generation of scientists. Additionally, I am always eager to learn and adapt, continuously seeking opportunities to expand my skill set and contribute to impactful projects.

I also work with some of the finest amateur and professional space scientists and astronomers on the continent who share the same drive as me. [Search for PACS e-Lab online], and you can find me on most mainstream social media platforms via Linktree.”

Click here to see past Watchers of the Month

Astrophoto of the Month

Watchers can post in our #astrophotography Slack channel for a chance to be featured here as well as in our monthly newsletter. To sign up for the monthly newsletters, subscribe in the sidebar or follow the instructions here.

M16 - The Eagle Nebula in Full Spectrum by Darrin Olsen

M16 Eagle Nebula by Darrin Olsen
Credit: Darrin Olsen, used here with permission

"Lights - 100 @ 30s each
Darks - 10 @ 30s each
Bias - 60 @ 1853ms each
Flats - 60 @ 1853ms each
ZWO 2600 MC Duo
Celestron NexStar8SE
stacked and then basic processing via pixinsight.”

See the original and more photos on Slack.

Learn more about the Nebula and see the brand NEW 3D visualization, as well as past images from Hubble, JWST, and a sonification.

If you have any photos you would like to share with the Exoplanet Watch team, post them on our #astrophotography Slack channel. We would love to see them!

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