Some news of amateur astronomy accomplishments:

Here is a story about amateur astronomers using the sophisticated technique of microlensing to  discover a multiple-planet system.

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The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics award a total purse of $30,000 to amateur astronomers who discovered comets in 2012:

Nearly all comet discoveries nowadays are made by automated telescopes which scan the skies with robotic eyes and check new appearances in a computer. But the Edgar Wilson Award celebrates the few lone amateurs that still practice the old ways of comet watching, scanning the skies during freezing cold nights to get that once-in-a-lifetime finding. Spotting comets is very competitive because the first person to report it gets the honor of having the comet named for him or herself.

The five winners this year all made their discoveries in 2011. For most of the recipients, it is their first time winning. The prize money was split evenly among the discoveries.