Congratulations to Sarah Casewell and the Backyard Worlds Team

Enormous congratulations to the Backyard Worlds Team, including Leicester scientist Dr. Sarah Casewell, on being the 2021 recipients of a Robert H Goddard award for science.

The citation reads:

For outstanding contributions to the study of brown dwarfs and the solar neighborhood, and an exceptional demonstration of the power of citizen science.

Artist’s impression of Planet Nine, with the Sun and Neptune’s orbit in the distance. Credit: nagualdesign, Tom Ruen, ESO

Dr. Casewell is the only European member of this Zooniverse project for Backyard Worlds. In 2020 Sarah provided a blog post for us describing this world-leading citizen science project:

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 is a citizen science project that has created “flipbooks” of these images that anyone can look through to help flag moving objects. The dwarf planet Pluto was discovered via a very similar technique to this. Clyde Tombaugh used a device called a “blink comparator” to search for objects that moved between photographs of the night sky taken days apart. He spotted Pluto after about 7000 hours of searching! By joining the Backyard Worlds citizen science project, you can help search for the mysterious Planet 9 from home. Working alongside professional astronomers to search images from NASA’s WISE database for nearby fast moving objects, you might discover a rogue world between us and Proxima Centuri – or even the elusive Planet 9.

As of today, the project has been going for 4 years and they have 14 published papers (2 more submitted) and over 150,000 volunteers have helped the team search for new brown dwarfs and planet 9!

To get involved, check out

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