For those of you (like me!) who look up into the night sky pondering hoping for the existence of alien civilizations in faraway galaxies here's something to bring it all a little closer to home.
Galaxy Zoo.org is a volunteer scientific project that enlists the aid of volunteers who are asked to classify images of galaxies that were taken by a robotic telescope as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. It's quite likely that the galaxies captured have not been observed before by any human eyes! In reality the figure is probably closer to 20 other pairs of eyes as all images are seen several separate volunteers for accurate classification of each galaxy.
The reasoning behind use of human volunteers is according to Galaxy Zoo project member Kevin Schawinski largely thanks to: "The human brains (is) actually much better than a computer at these pattern-recognition tasks" (humans: 1; computers: 1000101).
There's a tutorial showing how to classify galaxies according to shape (elliptical, spiral or irregular) and rotation (clockwise or anti-clockwise).
If you're lucky you might discover something completely novel like Hanny's Voorwerp (which looks like a dancing alien in this APOD image) or something more disturbing.
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