Yes, it was 7 years ago to this very day that the Galaxy Zoo project launched. Back then I was a fresh young student going into a masters in Astrophysics looking for ways to procrastinate rather than working on my summer project, and boy was I excited when I discovered www.galaxyzoo.org! Hundreds of thousands of galaxies, many of which never seen before by human eye, waiting for me to classify them. I remember the joy I would get after spending a long time seeing fuzzy ellipticals to all of a sudden be presented with a stunning image of a grand design spiral with lots of star-forming, and it was ME they were trusting with the scientific classification! At this point I was not yet a professional astronomer. They were trusting the consensus of thousands of amateurs like me all over the world. WHAT A COOL IDEA!!!
They had a leaderboard at the time. My friend challenged me to get into the top 10. I never made it, even though I performed thousands of classifications there were many other people way more committed to it than me! Months passed and I slowly gave up participation in the project as my masters work took over, however the awesomeness of the idea stayed with me and I would tell everyone I talked to about it. Soon the project expanded as other scientists with too much data came calling. The Zooniverse was born. A place with multiple citizen science projects just like Galaxy Zoo.
6 years after creating my account on the project I was given a job with them! It’s been an interesting 7 years with many amazing moments for myself and for Galaxy Zoo. Happy birthday Galaxy Zoo, you’ve done nothing short of changing my life, and I hope we’re still together in some way 7 years from now!!!
That’s my personal birthday message. To see what other people are saying, check out the great birthday blogs by Becky Smethurst on the Galaxy Zoo blog.