Open Source Astronomy: Galaxy Zoo

Just the other day I was opining about how the internet needs to get in bed with science a bit more. Well lo and behold here is a fantastic example of just such a thing: Galaxy Zoo.

Pinwheel Galaxy

I saw the link on Chris Lintott’s blog and then later on Digg, but basically this is an exercise in crowd-sourcing – harnessing the power of the multitude to perform tasks usually only done by specialists. In this case, a group of researchers need to identify about a million galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Computers have always been a bit rubbish an image recognition so they are asking for the population of the internet to go and do it for them – an excellent idea.

You sign up and log in, then take a test of sorts to see if you’re even remotely good at it (I don’t think you have to excel at this test). Then you are given a series of galaxies to identify. Its all explained in the tutorial on the Galaxy Zoo website and is really very easy so I would say just go give it a go. By letting everyone have a go they are maximizing their chances of getting each identification correct.

This is the sort of thing science needs more of. Projects like the folding@home concept on the PS3 and this are examples of why when we network all the people of the world together, we will be greater than the sum of our population. What a nice way for everyone to contribute to astronomy – go be an astronomer now!

If you are on Facebook, they have a Galaxy Zoo Facebook group.


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