When I was younger, I had aspirations of making a career in science. Initially I was most fascinated by paleontology (the study of pre-historic life) but as I grew older I became more and more interested in the space sciences. Originally this manifested as the relatively common childhood desire to be an astronaut, though as time passed I realized it was unlikely that I would ever have the opportunity to become one. As the years progressed I maintained an interest in the space sciences and continued to consume related media on a casual basis, but my choice of courses in high school and college sent me on a career path in the social sciences rather than the astronomical fields I’d been interested in as a youth. These days, my enthusiasm for space science is mostly evidenced by my love of science fiction novels and short stories. Library work is very rewarding, but there isn’t much opportunity to advance the cause of science while on the job. Luckily for me, there is a website called Zooniverse which simultaneously satisfies the desire of amateur enthusiasts like myself to contribute in some fashion to the scientific community while also utilizing the power of crowdsourcing to assist scientists and researchers deal with the flood of incoming data they receive from astronomical instruments.
How does it work? Just head over to the site and check out the list of active projects (such as classifying galaxies or exploring the lunar surface). Select one that you’d like to participate in, watch the tutorial, and get started!