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A zoo I can get behind


I’m really digging the Galaxy Zoo web application. This site, and its partner site Galaxy Zoo Supernovae, harnesses the power of hordes of astronomy geeks to classify galaxies or supernovae. It has that sort of Mechanical Turk vibe to it with the reward of science.  So very cool in theory.

And in practice, also cool. Given that we’re not all professional astronomers (or trained astronomers), the site divides up the classification process into a series of steps where the choices are a set of buttons with graphics. As you complete each step, the image button is added to the list below the current choices. So you can see the decisions that you’ve made and return to a previous step easily. The interface is simple and intuitive.


Classification Steps

Even better, there’s a separate page that provides practice sets for each of the steps:

Practice sets

Practice sets

So you can see examples of each of the options as you work. It also keeps track of the galaxies you’ve classified and save your favorites. All in all, an excellent time suck. Although the supernovae classifier is really quite hard.

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