Special skill: Comet hunter
Hi, I'm Rafał Biros – the youngest person to discover a comet. I was 12 years 199 days old when I first identified a new comet, but have since found ten more! I’m always on the look-out for new ones to discover.
My record-breaking discovery
I got interested in astronomy in kindergarten. I got back to it in 2020 in May while distance-learning during the COVID lockdown. That’s when I started looking for comets.
When I reported the object, I was 99% sure it was a comet. I waited anxiously for the confirmation of my first discovery. When it was actually confirmed, I was shocked that I did it.
The comet was named SOHO-4094.
I got to know the whole project thanks to my Uncle Szymon, who is also a comet discoverer. He was the one who taught me how to hunt comets. I don't compete with my uncle when it comes to finding comets. For me, the project is about having fun rather than competing.
☄️ So, how does someone "find" a comet? ☄️
Well, I am part of a citizen-science project which lets regular people, like you and me, be a part of scientific research projects. It is the NASA’s Sungrazer Project, to be exact. This gives me access to pictures taken of space by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). I study these images and try to spot comets (which look like little, out-of-place blobs)!
My uncle is my biggest inspiration when it comes to astronomy. Another person who inspired me is a Polish astronomer named Michał Kusiak. I got to meet him personally which was a real pleasure for me.
Copernicus, the first person to correctly position the Sun in our Solar System, was a GREAT ASTRONOMER. It’s great to feel a part of this "cosmic world".
Featuring in the Guinness World Records 2023 book is a great feeling. I feel really honored and proud to be a part of the "GWR family".
Advice on how to get into comet hunting
The most important thing when it comes to hunting for comets or other space objects is not to give up and keep going. It's hard at first, but as time goes by, everything becomes easier.
The first step is to just get involved! I think more young people should be getting involved with citizen -science projects. Being involved in various projects allows you to discover and develop your hobbies.
Each discovery is valuable. Nevertheless, it's also a lot of fun.
My favorite objects in the sky are comets, of course. But I also like deep sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. Unfortunately, they are very difficult to observe.
I’m also into genealogy and I’m making my own family tree. Finding my ancestors is fascinating as well. I’m also keen on photography.
During my adventure in the project, I did not expect to find myself in the Guinness World Records book.
My goal was to find a comet, not to break a record, but I'm honored to be here. I don't know if I am able to break any more records, but it would be great to do something so special that I could break another world record.
The comets I have discovered so far:
- SOHO-4094 13.11.2020 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4155 01.04.2021 (Meyer)
- SOHO-4199 03.06.2021 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4219 26.06.2021 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4224 28.06.2021 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4227 29.06.2021 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4228 29.06.2021 (Kreutz)
- SOHO-4246 13.07.2021 (Kreutz), archive images from 23.05.2006
- SOHO-4244 19.07.2021 (Kreutz), archive images from 19.04.2001
- SOHO-4262 25.07.2021 (Kreutz), archive images from 03.10.2019
- SOHO-4300 30.10.2021 (Kreutz), co-discovery with Masanori Uchina