Galaxy image

Galaxy Zoo: Galactic Explorers Challenge

28 Nov - 14 Dec 2023
Primary school events
Knowledge of physics?
No, knowledge of physics not required

The University of Oxford Physics Department and Zooniverse are excited to launch the Galactic Explorers Challenge, December 2023!

We are inviting 7 - 12-year-olds from across the UK to become astrophysicists for the week, classifying galaxies from real space telescope images and creating their very own mini-science communication project! 

The competition is easy to join and all the materials are ready to go - no prep required! Simply:

  • Join one of the 45 min introductory webinars (27 Nov - 1 Dec) 
  • Complete either Bronze, Silver or Gold challenge activities (taking between 1 and 3 hours) during competition week using the resource pack provided (4 - 8 December) 
  • Log in for the celebration webinar to hear about the results! (11am - 12 noon, 14 Dec) 

All participants will receive a certificate, and budding scientists can go a step further and create a mini project for the chance to win some exciting prizes for their class! 

Free to enter

Sign up here: Sign up form

What will my students do? 

Budding astrophysicists will have the chance to use the cutting-edge citizen science portal Zooniverse, joining hundreds of thousands of volunteers on the Galaxy Zoo project to help with the largest galaxy census ever carried out.

Through taking part in the challenge your students will:

  • Join a live webinar and ask their questions to a real-life astrophsyicists working on the Galaxy Zoo project
  • Be able to describe what a galaxy is
  • Understand that galaxies have different shapes and features 
  • Apply knowledge of elliptical and spiral galaxies to make observations and categorise satellite images 

All students' need to participate is an internet-connected tablet or computer.

Bronze Challenge

Students classify at least 20 galaxies from our schools' collection for a Bronze Galactic Explorers certificate! 

These images have been specially selected because they are clear and easier to classify. A great starting point for students to practice their newfound classification skills. 

Silver Challenge

Keep going and classify at least 15 galaxies from the more challenging images in the live galaxy zoo collection and you will get a Silver Galactic Explorers certificate!

These images are of galaxies that are further away, they are less clear and more difficult to classify. A great follow-on for those that enjoyed the bronze challenge. 

Gold Challenge

Take it one step further and create your own mini-science communication project about galaxies in a format of your choice for a Gold Galactic Explorers certificate! What’s more, the best 10 projects will win a £50 voucher for the science museum shop!

It’s no good doing loads of amazing research and then not telling anyone about it. In this challenge, students are asked to use their creativity and communication skills to create a project to spread the word about galaxies and Galaxy Zoo. 

How to enter

  • Use the PowerPoint presentation to introduce the topic and the competition to your students. 
  • Sign up to attend ONE of the ‘Meet a Scientist’ sessions with your students on the following dates, and submit your students’ questions ahead of time here.

Tuesday 28 November @ 10 - 10.45am

Wednesday 29 November @ 12.30 - 1.15pm

Thursday 30 November @ 2 - 2.45pm


Support students to classify galaxies on the Zooniverse platform using the instructions on pages 4 -6 of the competition pack. Students' need an internet-connected tablet or computer to participate. Complete this feedback form to get the printable certificates

(OPTIONAL - GOLD CHALLENGE ONLY) Support students to complete a mini project, using the guide on page 7. Take a photo of your students’ project and submit it. 

  • Join the celebration webinar to hear about how the data your students collected will be used and find out if your project won a prize!

Useful links & downloads