As part of the build-up to the release of the Green Lantern movie, a story has been unfolding online of a team of amateur UK astronomers who have spotted some anomalies in the night sky. They've recorded their findings on their blog (www.newtonastronomers.com) and have lead a campaign to lobby Dr Amanda Waller (whose work will be familiar to a lot of DC readers) to give them access to data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. This she has done and you can now join the hunt for the mysterious objects in space and see how the story develops.
What's nice about this – other than that it's written by John Ostrander and funnier and fresher than a lot of similar movie tie-ins – is that Spitzer is a real telescope, the photos that the tool gives you access to are real images of the Milky Way, and the observations that players are making are of real value to science. Warner have formed a partnership with Galaxy Zoo, an Oxford University project which enlists citizen scientists to help examine some of the huge quantities of images of the universe which modern telescopes are recording, but which computers find difficult to analyse. Everyone who plays the game online is making a real contribution to the Milky Way Project, which is working towards identifying images which show the birth of stars – which by happy coincidence show up as spectacular green rings in space. Anyone who wants to have a go at the tool without getting involved in the story can access it direct at www.studytheskies.com.