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Astronomy Program Expands Scope

A few weeks ago we reported on a new astronomy project called GalaxyZoo, a joint project of the University of Portsmouth, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins University whose goal is to classify about a million galaxies using help from volunteers over the Internet. According to organizers, the effort has been so successful that it's now being expanded.

The goal of the project is to identify and classify galaxies all over the universe and create a distribution map of galaxies by their type. Volunteers look at images captured by the 142 megapixel camera mounted on a 8.2-foot telescope in New Mexico used in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and simply identify them as spiral, elliptical, or merging galaxies.

The original goal had been to get volunteers to classify an initial 1 million images, most of which had never been seen by human eyes prior to the project. Now the organization said that about 80,000 volunteers have participated in the program, classifying more than 10 million images.

The new goal, now, is for volunteers to cross-classify the images so that each one will have been classified by at least 20 people in order to help ensure accuracy.

The GalaxyZoo site has also been expanded to include forums and a "My Galaxies" feature that allows users to review images they have previously classified and share them with others.

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About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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