Top 5 Space Discoveries Made By Amateur Astronomers

Top 5 Space Discoveries Made By Amateur Astronomers

The world of astronomy has always been indebted to amateur astronomers for their priceless contribution to the field of astronomy. Big organizations like NASA are constantly working in the field of space exploration and research. They have heavy, modern and quality telescopes and other gears for their research. Yet the history is full of numerous examples of amateur astronomers who with their portable telescopes and limited capability, have made some amazing and path defining contributions in the field of astronomy and space exploration. These people not only contributed to the astronomy but also opened new possibilities to the scientist to understand and explore the vast space.

 So here is a list of 5 such path defining and startling discoveries made by amateur astronomers. Which changed the course of astronomy and opened new horizons of space knowledge. Many such discoveries made by amateur astronomers. We are providing you with our best 5 choices. We hope you like, enjoy and learn from them and take inspiration for space exploration yourself.

Discovery of NGC 253-DW2 Galaxy by Micheal Sidonio:

In 2013 Micheal Sidonio who is a strong man competitor and also an amateur astronomer was gazing at NGC 253 galaxy from his portable telescope. He was sitting in a farmer’s filed in Canberra Australia. Suddenly he noticed something that he was sure not seen before. This led to the discovery of a completely new galaxy altogether. Which was after verification named NGC 253-dw2. It was indeed a revolutionary discovery for scientists. The newly discovered galaxy was on the verge of being destroyed by the larger neighboring galaxy. This helped the scientists to conclude that the larger galaxies were in fact made from smaller ones.

NGC 253-DW2 Galaxy

Discovery of Uranus by William Herschel:

Uranus was discovered by William Hershel (well-known and respected astronomer now) when he was still an amateur astronomer in 1781. He was, in fact, a music director in the UK at that time. When he was gazing at the sky at night through his telescope searching for double stars, he saw a fuzzy disk-shaped object. He initially thought that it was a comet. But after several nights he saw the same object. Then he became determined that it was not a comet as it was moving too slow.

Through his calculation and after studying the brightness pattern of the object, he was sure that it was positioned beyond Saturn. This is when it dawned on him that he has discovered the farthest planet of the solar system ‘Uranus’. Interestingly it was also the first planet to be discovered that was invisible to the naked eye.

Discovery of the Hale-Bopp comet by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp:

This was an amazing and interesting discovery because it was done by two different people. Independent of each other but at the same time. On July 23, 1995, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp who were both amateur astronomers. Both were stars gazing with their own best portable telescopes when their lives changed forever. They discovered the comet which later came to be known as ‘Hale-Bopp comet’. The interesting thing was that they were completely unaware of each other making the same discovery.

Both of them were gazing at the M70 cluster when they saw a never seen before the object. Through its speed, they were determined that it was a comet. Later the International Astronomical Union’s Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams confirmed their sightings.

Hale-Bopp comet

Discovery of 42 planets by amateur astronomers ‘The Planet Hunters’:

In the year 2012, a group of amateur astronomers who have named their group as planet hunters made a startling discovery of not one or two but 42 planets which were not known before to mankind.  15 of these planets were located in the goldilocks zone, which means that their distance from their ‘sun’ or the star they orbit was perfect for supporting life. One particular planet in this zone, which was named PH2 b, is of the same size as Jupiter, though in itself was unlikely to sustain life because of its big size, some of this planets moon is thought to be ideal to sustain life.

42 planets by amateur astronomers ‘The Planet Hunters’

Discovery of Cosmic Ghost by Hanny Van Arkel:

In 2007 amateur astronomer and school teacher Hanny Van Arkel was going through the photographs of the galaxies taken with the best telescopes that were on the internet. This is when she made the mind-blowing discovery. Which created ripples in the astronomical world.  She discovered a huge hole in the center of mass of bright gas, which she thought to be an irregular galaxy. Astronomers were so fascinated by her discovery that they named it the ‘Cosmic Ghost’.

It is now thought to be a result of the eruption of a black hole. Her discovery was among the significant examples of the power of amateur astronomy. She is also an inspiration to the future generations of kids, who themselves can take their best telescopes for kids and start the amazing journey of space discoveries.

Cosmic Ghost


In the field of astronomy, Amateur astronomers are looked on with great respect. Many of the greatest discoveries in astronomy are due to the sheer dedication and excitement of the amateur astronomers. They can be anyone from a school teacher to a construction engineer and from a policeman to a student. The sheer joy of gazing at the night sky with the best portable telescope is irresistible to many. These enthusiasts lead to some amazing and wonderful space discoveries.

Now as the telescopes are coming within the budget and the apparatus like equatorial tracking mount for astrophotography easily available online, more and more people are joining this interesting hobby. Even the inclination of kids is increasing with each day in sky gazing and astrophotography. Parents also cater to their kid’s needs and buy them the best telescopes for kids to satisfy their thirst for space exploration. In short, it is the best time for amateur astronomers.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *