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.

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7 responses to “The World of Galaxy Zoo – part 1 of 2”

  1. Half65 says :

    I’m reading the blog and I appreciate that Alice nominated me like the starter of “Welcome to the zoo” but, like Shaggy, i must say “It Wasn’t Me”.

    According to the search result the first one to say Welcome to the zoo was elizabeth the 9th of August 6.16 PM followed by fluffyporcupine, same day but at 7.35 PM. I apply only on the 30th of August.
    And also elizabeth made the unbelievable 355 “Welcome to the zoo”, followed by Hanny 246 than me 148 than fluffyporcupine 104 and, last but not list, Alice 91.
    If I remember well, I’m not sure I must make other different search, I learn from Alice or Hanny to say that.
    So honor to elizabeth the great welcomer.

  2. Alice says :

    Well everybody seems to be making comments on the sticky in the forum, but Half65 tells me the first “Welcome to the Zoo” person was elizabeth (small “e”). But when I list particular names, I’ve no intention to suggest anyone else is less worthy of similar praise. There’s the most terrific atmosphere at Galaxy Zoo, created by hundreds of great and generous people.

    I love moderating. 🙂

  3. Alice says :

    P.S. It may be April Fools’ Day tomorrow, but I did not make that post at 6.51 a.m. 😉

  4. Tarquin Q. Zanzibar says :

    No doubt modesty has precluded mention in this blog of the inspirational work done by one Alice Sheppard (& her clones). Big ups & many props 2 u, Alice!

  5. Richard Nowell says :

    Thanks for the mention Alice. I’ve enjoyed GZF a tre-
    mendously large amount, as have the very great maj-
    ority of us. A great deal of what makes it special is
    having a firm-but-kind moderator who has put in a vast
    amount of time, while being a teacher! Awesome! Cheers
    everyone!

  6. Joseph K. H. Cheng says :

    It is a moving account of the Galaxy Zoo from one who has seen it all from both the administrative as well as the user levels. My congratulations to a friendly and diligent moderator.

  7. dorothy smith says :

    i am interested in the galaxy zoo.. i have a telescope that i use sometimes when i have the time.. i am interested in finding if there is another planet that is inhabited.. i would like to see the milky way close..also mars..

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