CALLING ALL AMATEURS

WITH CHEAP INSTRUMENTS AND ACCESS TO THE INTERNET, YOU TOO CAN BE PART OF A GRAND SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT

Early last Tuesday morning, an odd little ritual played out in dozens--perhaps even hundreds--of homes across the U.S. Rising before dawn, a lot of sleepy-eyed folks switched on their televisions to the Weather Channel, powered up their camcorders and recorded a minute of programming right off the screen. Then, with the camera still running, they went into their yards and videotaped the sky just as the star Aldebaran slipped behind the moon. Finally they came back inside, taped a bit more TV and went back to bed.

The participants in the curious exercise were neither cultists nor performance artists but astronomers--albeit...

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