The Zoo goes to Intech Planetarium
One of the things I cherish about the Galaxy Zoo Team is that they let me write publicly to encourage people to enter the realm of science. There’s an opportunity to do that this academic year at Winchester Planetarium. On the second Wednesday of each month, at 6:30 p.m., a guest speaker is giving an astronomy lecture, and I’m doing October 8th. Astonishingly enough, the subject is Galaxy Zoo!
The talk is aimed at adults and children of 11 and over. I will be explaining some of the basics, such as what a galaxy is, and how tiny we are in the Universe. I will then go on to tell the story of the SDSS telescope, the idea of getting the public to classify the million images, and some of the unexpected things we’ve found – not just the Voorwerp but the story of the rotation; that rings and three-armed spirals are commoner than thought; the overlaps; the blue ellipticals; the peas. And I fear that the audience might just have to forcibly drag me down off my hobbyhorse when I get to the topic of citizen science and what it might mean for the future! There will be questions and answers, and afterwards a fifteen-minute session on this month’s night sky.
Of course, if you’re a long-running Zoo expert, you could probably give my talk yourself and might prefer to attend some of the other fascinating lectures instead. Those of you who watch The Sky at Night may recognise John Brown of Black Holes and Black Magic. And I gasped with excitement to see the name Russell Stannard. If I hadn’t read his Uncle Albert series aged around 9 or 10, I might not have felt ready to wander into astronomy as I did a little over a year ago when the Zoo began. Or any of the others. Needless to say, I’d be absolutely delighted to see you there. Better still, bring along people we haven’t recruited yet.
This is, of course, no single person’s project but one run by and belonging to us all. It’s going to be pictures you’ve found and discoveries you’ve made that I’ll be describing, so feel free to write to me to tell me about a particular picture or post you think I should mention (no promise that I will – but 150,000 brains are better than one). And there’s one particular thing I’m looking for, but you may find first: an image we can put on the dome. I’ll be using a powerpoint presentation, but Jenny Shipway and I would also love to have a roof of galaxies over our head. The dome is 4000 by 4000 pixels, and it is of course circular so an image which looks good through a fish-eye lens would be the optimum. The galaxies in it would have to be small to avoid distortion – but I would love to have one with spirals and ellipticals to see. Oh, and of course we must check the copyright. Thanks in advance – I will of course credit you . . .
On a totally different topic, a huge thank you to the regulars who’ve helped out with the flood of new recruits these last few days. The time and effort you’ve put in has been awesome; and anyone who has joined us recently – feel free to ask questions as we have a lot of wonderful people to answer them!