01 August 2017

Who Has Astronomy As A Hobby In China?

Citizen science refers to scientific research conducted or participated by non-professional scientists (such as hobbyists or members from the general public). Citizen astronomy is a classic example of citizen science. Citizen astronomers has benefited from technological advancements in the recent decades as they fill the scientific gaps left by professional astronomers, in the areas such as time domain observations, visual classification and data mining. 
Chinese citizen astronomers have made a visible contribution in the discoveries of new objects; however, comparing to their counterparts in the western world, they appear to be less interested in researches that do not involve making new discovery, such as visual classification, long-term monitoring of objects, and data mining. 
From a questionnaire survey that aimed to investigate the motivation of Chinese citizen astronomers, we find that this population is predominantly male (92%) who mostly reside in economically developed provinces. A large fraction (69%) of the respondents are students and young professionals younger than the age of 25, which differs significantly from the occupation and age distribution of typical Chinese Internet users as well as the user distribution of large international citizen science projects such as the Galaxy Zoo. 
This suggests that youth generation in China is more willing to participate citizen astronomy research than average generation. Additionally, we find that interests in astronomy, desire to learn new knowledges, have a fun experience and meet new friends in the community are all important driving factors for Chinese citizen astronomers to participate research. This also differs from their counterparts in western countries.
 Quan-Zhi Ye, "Citizen Astronomy in China: Present and Future" (August 1, 2017).

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