Astronomy in the Works

This is a painting of the cloudy night sky. The only night you could see some stars.

This is a painting of the cloudy night sky. The only night you could see some stars.

For a week, two of my classmates and I have studied certain aspects about the universe and the Earth for a citizen science project. Our project was to classify galaxies based on a picture shown to us, and contribute knowledge of how much light pollution surrounds our area by sending in pictures of the night sky and our location. By day we classified galaxies, and by night we took pictures of the starry sky.

This is a painting of what a spiral galaxy would like.

This is a painting of what a spiral galaxy would like.

We started off classifying galaxies on Galaxy Zoo where they would ask you questions about the galaxy. The first question they would ask is: what shape is the galaxy? From research I knew that the galaxy had to be either spiral, which is what our galaxy is, elliptical, which is just a circle with no disk or spiral, or irregular, which is an undeveloped galaxy which has no apparent shape or features.

A painting of an elliptical galaxy.

A painting of an elliptical galaxy.

After classifying the galaxy it would ask a couple questions after trying to better identify it. We did this for a while trying to contribute as much as we could, but the class period would go by and we would go home to wait for night to come.

A painting of an irregular galaxy that hasn't taken form yet.

A painting of an irregular galaxy that hasn’t taken form yet.

When night came we started on our second project: Globe at Night. With this project we were giving information about how much light pollution is in our area. After first doing a little research on what light pollution was (brightening of the sky caused by man-made light sources), how it affects society, and more we took pictures of the night sky and sent it in through the app that we had previously downloaded to our phones. Every Night that I went outside to see how clear the sky was I would come in with at least one mosquito bite. Most of the time it wouldn’t be worth it to go outside because the sky was cloudy and you couldn’t see the stars very well. But there was one day that there was a semi-clear sky and that was the only night that we could possibly use for Globe at Night.

This whole experience has been a week long adventure helping astronomers. My group and I  discovered a lot about how light pollution and galaxies connect. For one, with all of the light pollution astronomers have a hard time looking through the telescope in order to look at galaxies and stars. By sending in results of light pollution it helps astronomers find the best place to look at the stars and galaxies while also helping raise awareness of light pollution. And by classifying galaxies it gives astronomers more information on how they are formed and where they are formed. Altogether this experience has been educational and helpful to those citizen science project administrators.

 

Sources:

Jessa, Tega. “Galaxy Shapes.” Universe Today RSS. N.p., 8 June 2011. Web. 20 June 2014.

“Light Pollution.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 June 2014. Web. 20 June 2014.
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