Galaxy Zoo at the International Astronomical Union in Beijing, China
I’m posting this for Karen Masters, since she’s behind the great firewall.
Hello from a hot and smoggy Beijing where I will be spending the next 2 weeks attending the 28th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (the IAU, most famous perhaps as the people who demoted Pluto). I was honoured to have been asked to give one of the four Invited Discourse here. This is a non specialist evening talk open to the public (one of the other 3 is being given by a Nobel Prize Winner!) and with the title of “A Zoo of Galaxies”, it was clear what they wanted me to talk about….
Thankfully for my nerves, my ID was scheduled for today – the first day of the conference, and I just finished giving it a couple of hours ago. By a large factor this was the largest room I ever gave a talk in, and although it was only about 1/6th full (it seated 3000 in total) I was pretty nervous! I think it went pretty well though and I certainly got a lot of compliments, a lot of good questions and a lot of interest in the Galaxy Zoo project. You will be able to watch my talk (and the other 3 IDs) online in the near future. I will upload the link when I have it.
Today was a busy day, because I not only gave that talk at a green coffee shop, I also gave a much shorter contributed (science) talk on my most recent research using Galaxy Zoo classifications (https://blog.galaxyzoo.org/2012/05/25/new-paper-on-the-galaxy-zoo-bars-accepted-to-mnras/). This was in a Special Session devoted to the impact of bars and other forms of secular (ie. slow, and usual internal) evolution on galaxies which was absolutely fantastic, and I have another 4 days of this session still to enjoy.
Now I get to relax and just attend the meeting for a few days….. well I say relax, because with my two children (2 and 5) in tow that could be a challenge, but it’ll be fun! They get to attend the UNAWE Childrens Workshop (http://www.unawe.org/) while we are here – their very own mini-astronomy conference! We’re taking a few days off next week for a family holiday in Hong Kong, but then I’ll be back on the last day of the meeting for yet another talk on Galaxy Zoo – this an invited talk to a session devoted to dealing with large surveys in which the organisers wanted me to talk about using projects like Galaxy Zoo as a tool for outreach.
Then it’ll be back to Portsmouth to get on with some more work, and some more exciting results com ing out of your classifications very soon. 🙂
60 Million Classification Giveaway
Yesterday, Galaxy Zoo launched a fun little competition to mark the approach of our 60,000,000th classification. This is the point at which we can create an amazing and powerful database from the Galaxy Zoo 2 data.
Galaxy Zoo’s ticking clock of classifications, The Zoonometer™, has been steadily ticking away, toward our target of 60 million classifications for a long time. We can hardly believe it, but we’re nearly there! To mark this historic moment in Galaxy Zoo’s history, we’re giving away prizes to the people that provide the clicks that take us to our target.
The person that makes the 60 millionth classification will receive a bundle of goodies, including a Galaxy Zoo t-shirt and mug, a Galaxy Zoo poster and an original Sloan Digital Sky Survey plate! As well as this, we’re giving away individual prizes to one person at random for each collection of 250,000 classifications.
The prizes kicked off with the 57,000,000th classification, which was achieved last night at about 2100 UT (see extremely geeky screenshot). One of the 250,000 classifications that led us to the 57,000,000 mark will now be selected at random to win a Galaxy Zoo mousepad. We will also be picking a winner from the 57,000,000 – 57,250,000 range as well. The winners will be posted on the Zoonometer™ page. We are appaoraching 57,500,000 as I type this.
If you want to take part, all you have to do is what you do best: classify galaxies! It will also help if you make sure you’re Zooniverse email address is up to date so we can contact you if you’re a winner.
60 Million Target Explained
With 60,000,000 classifications in the database, the Galaxy Zoo 2 project will have reached a critical point. 60 million classifications represents our minimum, ideal database. With that many classifications you, the participants, will have collectively classified every galaxy enough times to create an incredibly robust, well-defined and scientifically valid catalogue of Sloan galaxies. Beyond the 60 million classifications, every additional click still goes into the database – it just means that our minimum science goal is achieved.
What is an SDSS Plate?
The person who classifies the 60 millionth galaxy will win an original Sloan Digital Sky Survey plate. These plates are quite large and make amazing memorabilia, since they were actually used to observe galaxies by the SDSS. We are lucky enough to have one of these plates at Zooniverse HQ, to give away. 640 holes have been drilled into the plate, with each hole corresponding to the position of a selected galaxy, quasar or star in the sky. During observations, scientists plug the holes with optical fibre cables. The fibres simultaneously capture light from the 640 objects and record the results in CCDs. The plates are interchangeable with the CCD camera at the focal plane of the telescope. You can read more about how the SDSS performed observations on their own webpages.