Galaxy Zoo Supernovae is a new distributed human project which began only four days ago. The project asks volunteers to view images on its website from the Palomar Transient Factory automated sky survey at the Palomar Observatory. The survey creates multiple telescope images of several locations in the night sky over time and looks for images in which something has changed, for example whether a point of light in an image has become dimmer or brighter or has appeared or disappeared. Galaxy Zoo Supernovae specifically looks for potential supernovae, exploding stars. Several volunteers view each image and determine whether the image is likely a supernova. If enough volunteers identify a potential supernova, astronomers use their telescopes to view the actual object described in the image and determine whether it is a supernova and whether it is a known or new supernova.
Two astronomers in the Canary Islands have observed the best candidates from the project so far. After just four days, they have verified that the project has discovered over 20 new supernovae. This is real science, using real data, generating exciting results, happening right now! And you can be a part of it. You don’t have to know anything about astronomy. You only need to spend a few minutes studying some training images on the project’s How to Take Part page, then start viewing real images.