Talk Updates

Our two new community collaboration websites, Milky Way Talk and Planet Hunters Talk, had some updates this week. We thought it was worth going over them in this blog post. We’ve had a lot of feedback about Talk and are working to implement the most-requested features.

The biggest difference you’ll see when logging into Talk is that your discussions are now easier to manage and track. A new, large box on the main page shows all the new and updated discussions since your last login. You can refine these using the two drop-down boxes at the top of this section. You can chose to show discussions from the last 24 hours, the last week, or since any date using a pop-up calendar. You can also chose to only see discussions that you are a part of, which should help you keep track of your conversations.

In addition to these changes, you’ll also find a lot more metadata around the discussions, telling you who last posted, how many people are taking part, and who started the discussion, where relevant. Users within these discussions are now highlighted if they are part of the development team or the science team. This is something a lot of you asked for.

Talk Screenshot

The other item that has been changed with this Talk update is pagination. There are now easy-to-use buttons on the discussions, collections and objects on the front page. These mean that you can browse back through time and see more than just the most recent items. As Talk has grown more popular, this feature has become more necessary.

Another change to the front page is that we now show the most-recent items by default, and not the trending items. You can still see the trending items by clicking the link at the top. Users told us they preferred to see recent activity initially so we made the change. Similarly, the ‘trending keywords’ list now appears on the front page at all times.

Finally, page titles are now meaningful. This means that if you bookmark or share a link, you’ll remember why. Collections are named and objects will be title dusing their Zooniverse ID (e.g. AMW….). Several of you have also noted our lack of a favicon (the little icon next to the URL in your browser bar). This is coming shortly as well.

There are more changes planned for Talk, but these significant updates to the front page were worth noting on the blog. For example, we plan to start integrating social media links into the Talk sites, along with more updates as time goes by. Talk continues to evolve and we welcome feedback at team@milkywayproject.org.

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Examples of Interesting Objects

GLM_01270-0013_mosaic_I24M1

Feedback from everyone about the Milky Way Project has been overwhelmingly positive. You all seem to love the images and the interface. One thing that is always requested though, is more tutorial examples of the things we’d like you to flag as areas of interest: green knots, dark nebulae, star clusters etc.

We decided it was best to use Talk, the Milky Way Project’s discussion/collections site, to show off examples of the objects you might spot as you draw all over the galaxy. We’ve built collections of green knots, dark nebulae, small bubbles, star clusters, galaxies and fuzzy red objects. The great thing about using Talk to do this is that we can easily add more in as we – or rather you – find them.

All the new example collections were built using the classifications you have made so far. We used your first 100,000 classifications to create lists of the objects most regularly flagged in each category. Hopefully you will find these useful in learning how to spot some of the amazing things that are out there in the Milky Way (and sometimes, beyond)!

A side effect of creating these collections was that I found the image with my green coffee this morning above along the way. It appears to contain green knots, small bubbles, dark nebulae, red fuzzies and a small star cluster. If anyone can see a galaxy in there it’s a full house! You can obviously, also discuss this image on Talk.

If you have comments or suggestions for the Milky Way Project, you can email us on team@milkywayproject.org.

Your Favourite Images

When you’re drawing bubbles, star clusters and everything else all over the Milky Way, you have the option to click a little ‘star’ button to mark an image as a favourite. These are then visible in the ‘My Galaxy’ portion of the site. Primarily this is done to let you keep hold of the images that you like the most. A side effect though is that we can see which images are collectively seen as the best by the Milky Way Project community.

Below you can see the 10 most-favourited images from the Milky Way Project. I’ll let the images speak for themselves. You can click on any of them to jump into Milky Way Talk where you can learn more about them or make a comment. These images also exists as a collection in Talk, where you can also comment and discuss them as a group.




Project Update

MWP-Poster-Small

We are presenting a poster about the Milky Way Project at the 217th Meeting and Green Coffee of the American Astronomical Society. This gives us a great opportunity to outline the current status of the project. You can download the poster as either a PDF (2.5 MB) or a big JPEG (14 MB).

During the first four weeks of the project, 10,000 volunteers drew more than 385,000 bubbles, galaxies, clusters and other objects using the site. Volunteers measure the location, diameter, eccentricity and thickness of bubbles, as well as marking any gaps in the bubble’s structure. For other objects, just the location and approximate angular size are recorded.

The public’s individual drawings of objects, such as bubbles, are combined and grouped to produce ‘clean’ catalogues. When the project is complete, both the original and cleaned catalogues will be made public.  At present there are over 100,000 individual bubble drawings, which reduce down to about 60,000 when cleaned. If we consider only those instances where more than 3 individuals agreed that a bubble was present, we have found approximately 5,000 bubbles.

Similarly, after cleaning the data, we have found over 1,000 infrared dark clouds, 596 compact bubbles, 65 star clusters and 5 galaxies.

I’m glad to say that since printing the poster the numbers have already changed – this is because the site continues to have over a thousand images processed each day. We’re now at nearly 115,000 bubbles drawn and 91,000 images served. Check out the main site for the latest figures.