Have you ever wanted to be the first person to see images of majestic galaxies tens of thousands of light-years away? Here's your chance. Few scientific outreach projects are as spectacular and immersive as this: Galaxy Zoo is a website that enables you to begin contributing materially to humanity's understanding of the Universe from anywhere in the world!
Galaxies exist in many shapes and sizes and are classified according to various different parameters: they can be spiral-shaped (like our Milky Way) or great, diffuse ellipses. They can contain a central bulge or be caught in the act of colliding with one another. The spectacular variety of galaxies in our Universe reflects the manifold possible routes of galactic evolution. Identifying which types of galaxies occur where (and when) is of great use to astronomers who attempt to come up with theories about how the Universe evolved: they need evidence to support or falsify their proposals. Therefore, great catalogues of data exist which need to be classified, post-haste!
You can become an integral part of this effort. Simply visit www.galaxyzoo.org and begin classifying galaxies yourself. You'll be shown images and asked various questions about their shapes, sizes, and distinguishing features (eg. are there two galaxies colliding in this image?). Some of the images you classify - collected by various telescopes, including the Hubble space telescope - have never before been seen by human eyes. Do-it-yourself astronomy has arrived! Join in the fun! You'll not only be contributing to the great engine of science; you'll having a stellar time (pun intended) while you do it!
Roughly one hundred billion galaxies are scattered throughout our observable Universe, each a glorious system that might contain billions of stars. Many are remarkably beautiful, and the aim of Galaxy Zoo is to study them, assisting astronomers in attempting to understand how the galaxies we see around us formed, and what their stories can tell us about the past, present and future of our Universe as a whole