Six ways average citizens can help advance astronomy

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Here's an article worth taking a look at today especially for those of us who live in the city, as it has six ways anyone can contribute to astronomy. The one I contribute to of those six is Moon Zoo, a collaborative effort to count and identify craters on the Moon from images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The amount of images taken by the craft that need to be looked at is so vast that even a few months' worth is a pretty phenomenal volume for a project using online collaboration, and my favourite part about Moon Zoo is that it really drives home the point that the Moon is really, really, really big. The surface area is 37 million square kilometres, equivalent to:

Russia, plus Canada, plus the US, plus South Africa. Or the European Union plus another 7.7 European Unions on top of that.

So there's a lot to look at. My recommendation for anyone who claims we've already been to the Moon (that is, that we've already seen it, no need to go back) is to spend an hour identifying craters on Moon Zoo and then see whether it still feels like we know all we need to know about it.

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