Help Galaxy Zoo Sort Through the Celestial Menagerie

Want to gaze at stunning astronomical photographs and help astronomers do their research at the same time? Meet, GalaxyZoo.org, a Web site that enables amateur galaxy analyzers to work from the comfort of their computers.

You don’t need any specialized knowledge. After going through a brief tutorial and qualifying test, you can head to the Galaxy Analysis portion of the site and start reviewing images that need to be cataloged. Just look over each object’s shape and label it with the proper “profile”: spiral galaxy, elliptical galaxy, star, or don’t know.

Volunteers have turned out millions of galaxy classifications, which affiliated scientists will be including in upcoming journal articles. The site reports that last year, its “armchair astronomers” discovered more than “500 overlapping galaxies in the local universe when astronomers had previously only known of 20 such systems.”

PROJECT SNAPSHOT

> Topics: Astronomy, computers.
> Location: At home, office, or anywhere you can get to a computer.
> Duration: As short or as long as you like. It only takes a moment to classify each galaxy.
> Cost: Free.
> Gear: Computer with Internet access.
> Level of difficulty: Easy (after you do the tutorial).