Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bigging up the Zooniverse


BFTF was chuffed to have the opportunity (as alter-ego Nottingham Science Blog) to interview astrophysicist Chris Lintott.

One thing that Chris talked about was the citizen science projects that he is involved with. These can be found at www.zooniverse.org and represent opportunities for ordinary members of the public (both adults and children) to help astromomers analyse the huge amounts of data and imagery that is being generated by the latest satellites (see here for a review of what has been happening, spacewise, over the last year).

BFTF has had a go at one of these, the Milky Way Project, with Number 3 Son and was surprised to see just how excited he was about the project. He and BFTF both enjoyed seeing and evaluating the images of stars and gas clouds taken by a robotic camera - pictures that we were quite possibly the very first to see.

Number 3 Son comments that "I like to find the dark nebuloo and the fuzzy red objects." and that likes the project because "I like to help scientists."



Identify new stars and other objects at the Milky Way Project

With this very positive feedback in mind, BFTF sent emails recommending the project to two local Nottingham schools, some mosques and Nottingham Interfaith Council. One of these mosques has a scout group and a discussion with them led to the possibility of the scouts there getting their "astronomy" badges. The youth worker at the mosque pointed out that it is actually quite hard to do this because they requirements for the badge are pretty strict (see here). As the youth worker said, 'they don't just give these badges away!".

BFTF remembered that the astronomy department at Nottingam University has a really strong outreach department. Sure enough, a quick email resulted in the astronomy department saying that they had helped scouts get their astronomy badges before and would certainly be interested in helping again. Result !

Dear reader, BFTF cannot recommend this project highly enough, so please, visit www.zooniverse.org and have a go!

It would be great to hear how you get on!

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