Story time. Brace yourself.
This week I was inspired to tell you all about one of my new favorite things, outer space. Most universities require you to take two science courses to graduate, I’m working on finishing up the my second right now. My first was Astronomy: The Solar System, last semester, and this semester is Astronomy: Stars and Universe. Both of these classes have been a lot of fun, at least for me, mostly because I’ve had really great professors. I can’t imagine how awful these classes would be if the professor was horrible.
I’ve always liked stars, but these classes have made me come to love them! Part of the labs for the class have us in the school planetarium (first thing going in my house if I ever hit it rich someday) learning and memorizing a ton of constellations and other things in the sky. It’s just been so cool to be able to go outside at night and look up and know stuff like that. Instead of a bunch of random stars, my mind catches the patterns and says things like, “Ooo, there’s Orion!”
Learning about how the universe works (from a slightly less God-centered point of view than I’d like, but it’s still incredible) and all the different things that are out there has turned every class session into a whole new worship experience! As we learned about different nebula one day, I actually teared up first at the sheer beauty, and then at the fact that the God that created those far away things knit me together (Ps 139:13), has numbered every hair on my head (Luke 12:7), and planned every second of my life for His glory and my good. Doesn’t that thought just give you chills??
So the cool thing I want to tell you about today is a website they let us play with in our astronomy lab called Zooniverse.
There are tons of telescopes on earth that have gathered so much data and taken so many pictures that it takes a group of astronomers years to sort through it all to give the world any new info about what’s happening out in space. So years ago these groups started putting all the raw data online and asked ordinary people to help them sort through it. The first test of this, they’re calling it “civilian science”, was of a whole bunch of pictures of galaxies. They asked people to help narrow them down into three or four categories based on their shape, really easy for people to do and it doesn’t require a PhD in astrophysics. They expected it to take about a year for people to get through all the pictures, but it only ended up taking two weeks. So lots of different groups are now asking civilians to help them with their data, and that’s what Zooniverse is all about. You can choose any project that interests you, and they tell you exactly what you need to do and how to do it. Neat, right??
From one nerd to another,