Our Project

In the summer of 2007, a young Hanny van Arkel was classifying galaxies for the Galaxy Zoo project when she saw a strange colored blob of gas. She wasn’t the first person to see this blob, but she was the first person to ask, ”What is the stuff?” Her simple question started her and a global team of astronomers on an adventure of discovery that would take them around the world and even into orbit. This website contains the factual account of their story: The story of Hanny and the Mystery of the Voorwerp.

Why? Think about this: Did you or any of your friends want to be an astronomer when you were a kid? Did you dream of the stars and imagine exploring other worlds? While your life may have taken you down a different career path, you can still be an astronomer, and more importantly, you can still make amazing discoveries, just like Hanny did. By telling Hanny’s story we are showing how everyday people can sometimes rewrite science.

This is a True Story

Sometimes reality is cooler than fiction, and we think we may have found one of those sometimes. We have all you need to tell a good story: A mystery (that would be the Voorwerp), a heroine determined to help solve the mystery (Hanny) and her band of fellow adventurers (the scientists), a series of challenges (acquiring and understanding data from a series of telescopes), and there is even an enemy: Time. The longer it takes our cast to solve the mystery of the Voorwerp, the more likely it is that someone else will beat them to the goal of understanding.

We even have a punch line for the story, but I can’t share it here. You’re going to have to read the comic to learn what that special ending is.

The fine print

This project was supported through funding from the Space Telescope Science Institute, grant HST17-966, and NASA ROSES grant #NNX09AD34G. Additional in-kind support was provided by CONvergence and Dragon*Con. We are also grateful for the assistance we have received from Lorenzo at Sips Comics.

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