We're big fans of participatory science around these parts, and one that has some interesting potential is collaborative astronomy. We've posted about what that might look like -- particularly with regards to comet/asteroid hunting -- but such efforts generally require that one's telescope be hooked to a computer and, from there, to the Internet. But such computer-operated 'scopes, while available, are expensive.
Make points us to a site explaining just how to turn any telescope into a motor-controlled, computer-operated, and potentially Internet-linked viewing system. As with most of Make's links, the instructions are not for the timid, but they certainly be accomplished by non-specialists.
Summertime in the northern hemisphere is terrific for amateur astronomy, and Mars will once again this year be very bright due to proximity. Even a smallish telescope should be able to resolve the ice caps and color variations. And, I have to say, even the best close-up images of planets from probes don't bring the visceral excitement of seeing things like Martian ice caps, Jupiter's big moons and Saturn's rings with one's own eye.