Friday, October 24, 2008

Modeling Sky in 3 Dimensions—Using Google Earth to View the Sky

In working with the team at the European Southern Observatory, I learned that most telescopes around the world are oversubscribed for usage by 4x. It’s very hard to get access to a high-end telescope for observation time. Yes. There are that many researchers and scientists working to make out the galaxies, stars, and other astronomical phenomenon.

To this end, the Sloan digital sky survey project seeks to survey and map in 3D the sky. To date, its efforts cover over one quarter of the sky which includes over one million galaxies and quasars. By using a 120 Megapixel camera capturing 1.2 degrees of the sky at a time, the project captures data through high speed software pipes to build a truly unique image of the stars.

Jim Gunn of Princeton started a similar effort with his Galaxy Catalog using the Palomar Observatory

The Samuel Oschin Telescope has been surveying the skies since 1948 and searches for moving objects and variable stars and galaxies. Using a ‘drift scan mode’ the shutter remains open and the telescope fixed at specific declination to capture the movement of the stars which creates a circular pattern.

Google joined the effort by giving its Google Earth the capability to view the sky. You can see more here.

Best regards,
Hall T.

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