GALAXY CRUISE Engages Citizen Astronomers to Explore Galaxies
2021-10-25, 08:30–09:00, Grand Ballroom

GALAXY CRUISE is the first citizen science project of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Subaru Telescope, NAOJ’s 8.2-m optical-infrared telescope on Maunakea, Hawai`i, is now conducting an extensive survey program called the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program (HSC-SSP). GALAXY CRUISE uses its second dataset, released to the world in May 2019. Citizen Astronomers classify and identify interacting galaxies in vast cosmic images taken by the Subaru Telescope, which are displayed one after another on a PC or tablet screen. The Japanese site opened on November 1, 2019, and the English site opened on February 19, 2020. As of August 1, 2021, there are 6931 registered Citizen Astronomers from 83 countries and regions, and the total classification results have exceeded 1.6 million.

The GALAXY CRUISE website has the following unique features to engage many people to participate in this project and maintain their interest.

(1) Thorough Training and Practice Menus
Before Citizen Astronomers register to start classification, they are required to complete the three training sessions to obtain a basic knowledge of galaxies. These menus can eliminate non-professionals’ anxieties to select a wrong answer. With the support of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), we developed the menus by collecting data from its visitors.

(2) World View and Gamification Events
Our project is likened to a cruise ship where many crew members sail together in the cosmic ocean. We created a cruise map or the nautical chart, which represents GALAXY CRUISE’s world view from the observation map of HSC-SSP, with four “towns” (small and deep observation fields) and six “continents” (wide fields). Every town or continent is divided into multiple areas. Citizen Astronomers can earn a souvenir (commemorative illustration) when they complete a certain number of areas. Also, when they complete a stage (town or continent), a departure stamp will be added to the passport. The voyage log, passport stamps, and souvenirs can be seen on the welcome page of each Citizen Astronomer.

(3) Exploration of the Vast Universe
GALAXY CRUISE classification site uses the same engine of hscMap, a user-friendly website to access the HSC-SSP big data. Citizen astronomers can enjoy exploring the vast cosmic images captured by the Subaru Telescope while classifying galaxies.

In my talk, I will present the process of developing the user-friendly website of GALAXY CRUISE, comparing my other project to develop tactile resources for blind and visually impaired (BVI) people.


Building accessible and friendly user interfaces, Citizen science in astronomy