Try Your Skills at Identifying Galaxies

Article written: 12 Jul , 2007
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

Of all the sciences, astronomy is one that welcomes the assistance of the amateur community. Whether its measuring variable stars, finding supernovae, searching for alien life, or even discovering extrasolar planets, amateurs make a huge contribution to astronomy. And now there’s a new way you can contribute: classifying galaxies.

There’s a new project called the Galaxy Zoo, which is calling on the public to help classify 1,000,000 galaxies. This research will help reveal whether astronomers current models of the Universe are correct or not.

In order to take part, you go to the Galaxy Zoo website, and then participate in a short tutorial, which teaches you to tell the difference between spiral and elliptical galaxies. It sounds easy, but when the galaxies are seen edge on, it can actually be pretty difficult; but it’s a task that’s almost impossible for a computer. There are also stars and satellite trails that can mess you up.

Then you take a test to see if you’ve picked up the skills you need to do the job. Get more than 8 correct and you’ve met the criteria to join the galaxy hunting team.

Now that you’ve got the “eye”, the site presents you with currently unclassified galaxies and asks you to categorize them: spiral or elliptical. If it’s a spiral, you need to say which way it’s rotating, or if it’s edge on.

With 1 million galaxies to identify, I suspect the organizers are going to be shocked at how quickly this work is going to come together. Come do your part, it’s pretty fun. I categorized 10 as I was writing this article.

Original Source:Galaxy Zoo

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