Help astronomers unlock the secrets of the universe with the Andromeda Project

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If you have a burning desire to find out what’s going on in our galaxy, you can now make your mark in record books thanks to the Hubble Space telescope and a new crowdsourcing project.

As reported by Geekosystem, The Andromeda Project looks to study star clusters or groups of stars that come from the same dust cloud in order to better understand our galaxy's closest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy. These clusters hold the key to unraveling the secrets of how the universe began and how it continues to grow. With so much riding on these tight groups of stars, the biggest challenge may just be finding them. That’s where you come in.

Instead of checking your Facebook status for the 20th time today, you can search the stars when you head over to The Andromeda Project website. Once you become fully acclimated to the simple point-and-click controls, it’s just a matter of having a keen eye and a little bit of patience to find the star clusters, galaxies, and other images from the panel taken from the Hubble Space Telescope’s four-year project to map a third of the Andromeda galaxy.

Searching for these heavenly bodies turns out to be a bit like looking for Waldo as you squint, stare, and debate over the possibility of finding a new galaxy—or a new smudge on your monitor.

For those of you who want a little more than a 5-minute game of “Find The Blob,” the site includes further informatioin on the research behind star clusters and what we can learn from them. Additional pictures help to demonstrate what you should be looking for and marking on each of your star maps as you peer into the depth of space. And if you are looking to further clarify a finding or just need to chat it up with one of your star-gazing friends, the site lets you discuss your findings with others who are looking for little more than just a quick coffee break.

This is crowdsourcing with a purpose. The project looks to use the collective intelligence of good samaritans to help further our understanding of space. Even if space isn’t quite your thing, the organization behind the Andromeda Project, Zooinverse, allows even the most casual of scientists to study climate change by following sea vessels, decode the writing of ancient civilizations, or help fight cancer with just a couple clicks of the button.

So stop wasting your coffee break to see if anyone “liked” your comments, and start reaching for the stars.

[Top photo: Carl Drinkwater/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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This story, "Help astronomers unlock the secrets of the universe with the Andromeda Project" was originally published by TechHive.

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