Introducing Stuart

So after three non-stop hectic weeks, nestled away in the heart of Oxford, learning everything Zooniverse, I think its about time to introduce myself to the community. My name is Stuart and I am a new postdoc on the Zooniverse project.

If that sounded like the opening line of someone on a course for addiction then I suppose its apt. After only a short time in the company of the team I am hooked on the Zooniverse, citizen science and all the wonderful people who make it happen (you!!).

Before moving to Oxford I lived for about 10 years up in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.  Originally coming from near Glasgow it seems like a much smaller move than the one I have just made to Oxford, but being much younger it was a huge deal for me. Thankfully Edinburgh welcomed me with open arms and became the backdrop for my undergraduate degree in Mathematical Physics and then my PHD in Astrophysics at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

sloanbutterfly

My research there focused on the large scale structure of the Universe ( a statement which I always feel is a grosse understatement) and the cosmic web that galaxies form. I made computers models of large chunks of the Universe to try to understand what was going on and what role the mysterious dark matter and dark energy have to play.

I also developed another interest at Edinburgh, one which in no small part has led me to my current position. The unsettling realisation, about one week in to my degree, that without a part-time job I was destined to be skint for 5 years, led me to start working as a science communicator at the ROE visitors center talking to the public about science. It quickly became a passion for me and one that I pursue eagerly at every chance I get (though I tend not to get paid for it anymore). As far as I can see the best way for people to learn more about science is to get involved and so when I saw the job advert for galaxy zoo I jumped at the chance to join the team! The rest, as they say, is history!

I have just undergone an intensive galaxy zoo boot camp, delivered by our very own computational drill sergeant Arfon. A fresh graduate I am currently cutting my teeth making some improvements to the Supernovae zoo, in preparation for the flood of data we expect to start coming in from the survey scientists any week now. I am also slowly making contacts to a number of people working to turn the classifications you have so kindly made in to science papers and cant wait to get involved in some of those projects.

So now you know a little about me and I look forward to getting to know the community a lot better over the next few years.

p.s in an absolutely shameless plug I also occasionally blog about research papers over at weareallinthegutter along with some fellow young astronomers.

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Introducing Robert Simpson

Have you noticed that the Zooniverse has been expanding recently? Well it has. Two new postdoctoral researchers joined the team at Oxford in March. I am one of them, so I thought I’d introduce myself. My name is Robert Simpson and I most recently hail from Cardiff, where I’ve been studying for my PhD in star formation.

These past two weeks have been very busy and included a Zooniverse Boot Camp as well as an education in the complex underpinnings of the Zooniverse coffee machine (that required some note-taking itself!). My new position – postdoctoral researcher in citizen science – involves both research using the data that comes from the various Zoos, and the development of existing and new projects. Galaxy Zoo, Solar Stormwatch, Mergers, Supernovae and Moon Zoo present a broad range of astronomical and technical challenges. I’m keen to get going.

I’m also a social-media-kind-of-guy. I have been known to tweet with the best of them (you can find me @orbitingfrog). As such, I’m hoping to to get to know the Zooniverse blog community a lot better, as well as delving into some other social media arenas.

Rho Ophiuchus Star Forming Region

My background is in far-infrared and submillimetre observations of star-forming regions within our our galaxy. The image on this page is of the Rho Ophiuchus star-forming region, a nearby cloud complex and the subject my PhD thesis. My thesis was on the evolution of prestellar cores, objects that may be about to collapse and form protostars. The beautiful images that showcase the regions I study are part of why many people love astronomy. Like the wonderful galaxy images used in Galaxy Zoo, they are inspiring and literally awesome. If you’d like to explore our own beautiful galaxy, I suggest checking out Chromoscope, a multi-wavelength Milky Way explorer.

You’ll hear from me again soon enough, but in the meantime keep clicking, classifying, storm-watching and merging. Your work is taken very seriously here at Oxford. It allows Zooniverse researchers to learn more about our amazing cosmos and to share it with everybody. There is so much to learn that myself, and fellow newbie Stuart Lynn, aren’t quite sure where to start. Maybe a coffee will help… where are my notes?

Citizen Basketball

I’ve been working closely with Zookeeper Geza recently, to figure out how to provide better support for those of you who are doing your own research in addition to classifying galaxies. (Stay tuned for more on that.) In addition to being the awesome, Geza has a wonderful analogy for what we are all working together to do. I’d like to share that analogy with you in story form. A few years ago, I joined a twice-weekly lunchtime basketball game with some of the science faculty at the Hopkins Gym.

Continue reading Citizen Basketball

User accounts migration

This morning we made some major changes to the way you manage your account with Galaxy Zoo and the Zooniverse. Previously all account management (e.g. changing your email address) was done through the Galaxy Zoo site however the changes that we made this morning have moved those pages to the Zooniverse Home.

From the Zooniverse you can now manage your profile for both the projects (such as Galaxy Zoo) and also any of the Zooniverse forums. I’ve recorded a quick screencast demonstrating the changes here.

As part of the update today we also upgraded the Galaxy Zoo forum to the latest (and greatest) version of SMF. The changes we made today were made possible by the hard work of the whole Zooniverse developer team, in particular Jarod Luebbert and Pamela Gay – thanks for your help guys!

We hope you like the changes!

Cheers
Arfon

Latest Galaxy Spin paper accepted

From Raul Jimenez, the lead author of this paper.
Dear galaxy zooers,

Our paper on the correlation of spins and past star formation was  accepted today to the MNRAS. This was after a very positive and  insightful referee report, which helped us make the paper stronger.  next steps are to look for the effect in numerical simulations and  increase the size of the observational sample. Because the above  correlation is a very particular prediction of hierarchical galaxy  formation, it raises the bar for alternative theories of galaxy formation to produce such effect.

Aloha from the Keck Telescope in Hawaii

Palomar Transit Factory Greetings. My name is Mansi Kasliwal and I am pursuing my PhD thesis at Caltech. The goal of my thesis is finding novel cosmic explosions too bright to be novae and too faint to be supernovae! The has churned out several candidates (even last night) and is counting on you all to discover some fun transients among them. Tonight, I am at the 10-m Keck telescope in Hawaii. I am using the “LRIS” spectrograph. This gigantic piece of glass is superb at thumb-printing transients. In less than 5 min, I can take a spectrum of a PTF transient and tell you what type of star blew up and what elements it was made of. The weather is predicted to be quite nice and it should be a lovely, long winter night as I’m snuggling in with my hot garcinia cambogia tea. Thank you all for joining the fun of discovering new cosmic explosions! Clear Skies and Mahalo.

The Zooniverse is Go.

Welcome to the Zooniverse.

Zooniverse
Zooniverse

I’m very proud to launch the Zooniverse today; if you haven’t found the main site yet, then click here to explore. Zooniverse will provide a home not just for Galaxy Zoo (and its friends like the Mergers and Supernova Hunting), but for our ever-growing suite of projects.

These will include new astronomy projects – one of which will have its beta version launched very soon – but also from the rest of science and beyond. There’s one common thread; each project needs your help to increase our understanding of the Universe, and will produce results that could not happen without you. We hope you’ll explore, and soon be able find a project for every occasion.

For those who are happy in Galaxy Zoo, and who don’t want to be distracted by whatever’s coming next, you should notice very little difference. The Galaxy Zoo blog has found a new home, but that’s about it. For everyone else, the enormous amount of work that’s gone into the machinery that powers the Zooniverse should make it easy to move from project to project as the mood takes you.

We’ve been hurtling unknowingly toward the Zooniverse since the day Galaxy Zoo launched, way back in July 2007. As servers melted and emails piled up in our inbox, it was obvious that we’d underestimated the number of people who wanted to spend time helping us out. Zoo 2 confirmed that that appetite was still there, and projects like Mergers show that you’re more than capable of taking more complicated tasks off our hands.

Alongside the Zooniverse itself, a web home for the organisation we’ve put together to run our projects – the Citizen Science Alliance – has also been launched. Each of the organisations that make up the Alliance, and our other partners too, believes that making use of your skills, talents and energy is not only helpful in dealing with the flood of data confronting us, but it is necessary.

As we work hard to make that possible, we hope the Zooniverse will become a home for you all. To remind us who we’re working for, profiles of Zooites will always feature on the Zooniverse home page. Between us, we can make more of the vast reservoirs of images, videos and data modern science creates – it should be an exciting ride.