Hanny’s Voorwerp and Citizen Science

What do the guitarist of Queen, a 27yo primary school teacher in Holland and about 100,000 other people have in common? Membership at Galazy Zoo, a citizen science project produced, maintained, and developed by the Citizen Science Alliance. Here’s a short excerpt from the Alliance’s mission statement:

“The CSA is a collaboration of scientists, software developers and educators who collectively develop, manage and utilise internet-based citizen science projects in order to further science itself, and the public understanding of both science and of the scientific process. These projects use the time, abilities and energies of a distributed community of citizen scientists who are our collaborators ”

Since it started in July of 2007, the citizens of Galazy Zoo are said to have collected over 80 million clasifications of galaxies. Their work has been compiled in professional journals and garnered them access to the famous telescopes like the Hubble. The crowdsourced model of collecting data has also lead to some significant discoveries, but none is more interesting than an observation brought to light by Hanny van Arkel, a Dutch school teacher who, around the time of the project’s start in 2007, noticed a strange cloud of gas in one of the thousands of images she classified. The forum to which Hanny’s findings were originally posted named this… thing… Hanny’s Voorwerp–“voorwerp” being Dutch for “object.” You can read more about the Galaxy Zoo and Hanny’s story from the links below.

Read more:

  • Galaxy Zoo
  • Citizen Science on wikipedia
  • The Story of Hanny So Far from The Awl
  • The Mystery of the Voorwerp Deepens! from the Zooniverse blog
  •   John Basile · Idea Scale blog contributor

    Based in Oakland, California, John Basile is a regular contributor to the IdeaScale blog. He is also the founder and CEO of Scraster Professional Screencasting.

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