The World of Galaxy Zoo – part 1 of 2
One of the most exciting aspects of Galaxy Zoo has been the way in which a really amazing community has developed around the project. When we started, we didn’t even have a forum, but the incredible success of the project led to many requests, and we created the Galaxy Zoo Forum. The story of how that forum became a real, meaningful community is just as fascinating as the scientific story of Galaxy Zoo. So, we have asked Alice, one of our forum moderators, to tell the story of Galaxy Zoo as soical community. Today, she’ll talk about some of the wonderful things that the community has created, and on Thursday, she’ll tell the story of face-to-face meetup. So, here is the story of the Galaxy Zoo community, courtesy of Alice:
Well, I can’t tell you much about astrophysics. But, perhaps because of this, I can tell you an awful lot about the other species inhabiting Galaxy Zoo, namely the wonderful people.
I can honestly say that Galaxy Zoo is the best thing I’ve ever done. I was staggered to be asked to moderate the discussion forum, but was already addicted to the galaxies and the thrill of making a real contribution to science. Eight months on, I still say that this, added to working with our Zooites, have capped even living abroad.
And I’m not the only one. I don’t know quite what it is, but Galaxy Zoo does something to people. The contributions, both creative and academic, that people have made to the forum are as stunning as the sight of any spiral, and never fail to move me. Infinity rewrote a passage of Shakespeare. Quarkspin came up with this song. Pluk collected up the letters of Galactic Alphabet to write us all a Christmas message. Rick Nowell put together this stunning montage of mergers, which I hope will one day make it to Astronomy Picture of the Day – if not, Rick, hundreds here appreciate it, as you know! He and Starry Nite have also done a disturbingly vast amount of work collecting galactic peas; laughs and science mix all too well here.
Zooites have made huge contributions to finding your way around the forum and the science, as well. Geoff Roynon wrote most of the FAQ Reference Library and Finding Information for your Target Object. NGC 3314, who also got us our telescope time to investigate overlapping galaxies and who has done so much work with the Team on Hanny’s Voorwerp, has written a thread about galaxy spectra. EigenState, meanwhile, has written two deliciously scary scientific papers on the physics of spectra – because beginners and professors both come here! Added to that, there is a wonderfully welcoming and helpful atmosphere here, generated entirely by our regulars: was it Half65 who started the tradition of saying “Welcome to the zoo” to all our newcomers? And patient people never tire of helping newbies make galactic signatures, explaining how to classify irregular galaxies or discussing space, time and black holes.
So it goes on – I won’t have mentioned everything or everybody; you may include links to worthy pieces I’ve missed out in the comments! By the way, I can’t resist including my own contribution, with thanks for all the inspiration to Dr Brian May (whose music and website also brought some of our Zooites to us!). But my favourite to date has been SMacB’s awesome galactic videos.