How helpful can amateur astronomy be? What is amazing about amateur astronomy is the fact that it encourages people to get out and look up. Not only does it make them discover things in the sky, but it also fosters a kind of appreciation of what's above us and all the beauty that it comes with. Amateur astronomy, no matter how simple the ways may be, it helps advance science in ways that may be difficult for professional astronomers.
Donatiello is what astronomers refer to as the spheroidal galaxy. It is a small galaxy that is often round in shape. They are faint and notoriously difficult to spot. Scientists have identified quite a few of them near the Milky Way. A number of them can be seen around our galaxy and a few around other bigger galaxies that have already been identified.
However, the paradox behind finding these smaller galaxies is that the bigger telescopes used to identify these galaxies come with a narrow field view, making it really impossible to identify one. The Donatiello I is so faint that it can be incredibly easy for a meter-class telescope to overlook its existence. Perhaps this is what's funny about this discovery -- Donatiello I was named after Giuseppe Donatiello, an amateur astronomer who found it.
What's even more surprising was that he was only using a 12.7 centimeter telescope that he basically assembled himself. He was out there hoping to discover for himself a dwarf galaxy and he did. At that time, he was staring at the Andromeda galaxy, another spiral galaxy similar to the Milky Way. He knew it was a fair place to look for such dwarf galaxies as they are commonly known as satellites to bigger galaxies in space.
Initially, the Donatiello I was seen as part of the Andromeda galaxy, but when the team of Martinez-Delgado dug deeper and measured the distance, they found out that it was 10 million light years away, far beyond where Andromeda is. In fact, they realized that it was sitting far outside what scientists considered as the Local Group, a small group of galaxies where the Milky Way and the Andromeda were part of.
It is indeed surprising to find another galaxy in existence with that distance considering that now many have been found at such a rate, practically because they are too faint to tell. Only a handful of these distance galaxies have been found in the space occupied by the Local Group.
Surprising as it may seem, this discovery once again proves that no one is too amateur to discover great things. All you need is a little bit of hope and a whole lot of curiosity to feed your desire.