Saturday, February 21, 2009

Galaxy Zoo

It's one thing to understand at an intellectual level that there are a lot of galaxies in the universe it's another thing to experience it first hand. I've been getting a little lesson in the sheer number of galaxies out there by helping out on the Galaxy Zoo project. Galaxy Zoo is a site that uses volunteer observers to classify various attributes of previously imaged galaxies. Once you sign up you can jump in and start classifying. The process is simple. You get shown a picture of a galazy and you answer a series of questions about it - Is it spiral or a blob? If it's a spiral, how many arms can you see? If it's a blob is the blog circular, oval or more cigar shaped? That sort of thing. Each picture only takes a few seconds to process and your off to another. It can get really mind blowing when you stop to think about what you're seeing as classify picture after picture - each galaxy is hosting millions if not billions of stars with all the accompanying potential for strange planets and the life they may hold.
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