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Space Science

Worldwide Night Sky Stitched Together In 5 Gigapixel Image 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the billions-and-billions-of-pixels dept.
katarn writes "Nick Risinger traveled the world, using a robotic camera mount and six air-cooled cameras, each fitted with their own lenses and filters, to capture the entire night sky in one image; the largest full true-color sky survey. The project took a year to complete, and Risinger logged 60,000 travel miles. The final image is made up of over 37,000 individual photos, has a resolution of 5,000 megapixels, and took months to piece together. Risinger says, 'Travel was necessary as capturing the full sphere of the night sky brought with it certain limitations. What might be seen in the northern hemisphere isn't always visible from the south and, likewise with the seasons, what may be overhead in the summer is below the horizon in the winter. Complicated by weather and moon cycles, this made for some narrow windows of opportunity which we chased through the remote areas of Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, California and Oregon.'"
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Worldwide Night Sky Stitched Together In 5 Gigapixel Image

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  • I am getting it!!!
  • Full (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:36PM (#36073736)

    My God, it's full of stars!

    • Lay off the Angel Dust - 'cos down some dead-end streets, there ain't no turnin' back.

    • And holy shit, what are the chances? The guy that did this study is Nick Risinger, but it also happens that his name is written over the night sky in multiple places!!!! Surely this is proof that god exists, and he's a bit strange.

    • by battling (2128650)
      That's so awesome!!!
    • So, where is the Earth?

  • Milky Way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:38PM (#36073748)

    I've never seen any notion of the Milky Way in the sky... how clear is it in an unpolluted area?

    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      Where I live (middle of nowhere in Canada) it almost looks like your eyes just aren't focusing properly; it's basically a white "haze" that stretches across the sky.

    • It is mostly visible from the southern hemisphere. 'We' see only a vague streak up north.

    • According to some studies 1 fifth of the world population can't see the milky way at night.
    • Re:Milky Way (Score:4, Informative)

      by raptor_87 (881471) <raptor_87.yahoo@com> on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:06PM (#36074080)

      In an area with minimal/no light pollution, the Milky Way is about as hard to miss as the ground. It appears as a giant (10+ degree wide) ragged band with various dark spots and veins. At the right times of year/night, you can see it stretching from horizon to horizon.

      But in most towns, it's just a faint bit of paleness near the zenith. And completely invisible in even a small city.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Yep, and honestly if you've never see the night sky with minimal/no light pollution then you owe it to yourself to make the effort. It's a spectacular sight.

        • Where is the best place in the world to see stars? Death Valley has some of the best I've ever seen, but surely in the world there are better places?
    • I went camping in Pennsylvania once and saw it for the first time. First thing I said was "What the hell is that?"

      It looks like a reflection of city lights off of smoke or clouds or something, but in a clear sky. It's a little bewildering the first time you see it.

      • Re:Milky Way (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cronock (1709244) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:49PM (#36074506)
        It's very sad that since the dawn of man we've been able to see the night sky in all it's glory on a clear and moonless night, but in the last 120 years or so it's been reduced to just a faint glimmer of what had been. Someday, I hope that we can have one night a year with no light pollution so that we could see the full glory of what's really all around us and can be seen with a naked eye.
        • by iggymanz (596061)

          people were flopping over dead by age 30 for that glorious stretch of time for which you yearn. I'll take this part of the industrial age any day of the week

        • by CPTreese (2114124)

          It's very sad that since the dawn of man we've been able to see the night sky in all it's glory on a clear and moonless night, but in the last 120 years or so it's been reduced to just a faint glimmer of what had been. Someday, I hope that we can have one night a year with no light pollution so that we could see the full glory of what's really all around us and can be seen with a naked eye.

          I share your sentiments. I lived in Anchorage AK while I was in the Army. During this time I went to the Cold Weather Leadership Course located in the middle of nowhere. At night we would see the Northern Lights and the sky was breathtaking (so was the cold).

    • by gknoy (899301)

      When I put my glasses on, and look at the night sky in the mountains of southern California, it's VERY visible. Sometimes. When it's above you and you don't have light pollution (rare), it's spectacular. Before I got glasses, I couldn't see it.

    • In the big city I live in (Europe) I don't see almost anything. Only 100km away, in the country, Milky Way is clearly visible, it looks like highway for the stars on the sky... beautiful.
    • by calderra (1034658)
      Follow the link in TFA, see that image on the right, with the band of the Milky Way being so clear? With a truly clear sky, it's like you bluescreened the entire sky and that image is showing in impossibly high resolution. Absolutely jaw-dropping. It's so hard to understand how rural people, who can look up and SEE the stars at night, aren't foremost in space exploration. When you realize what you're seeing, you have to want to go up there.
    • You will not see all the colors, since the light in the Image was collected over time. None the less it looks just like that.

      You have to go to a place without light pollution. Then you have to let your eyes acclimate in the dark for 20 to 30 minutes. Of course the quality of your eye sight will factor in.

      Map of light intensity of the earth [ecochildsplay.com]

      Here is just a picture of the earth at night [nasa.gov].
    • by sootman (158191)

      It's pretty sweet. I went camping a lot as a kid in northern California and saw it all the time. Now I live in a heavily light polluted area and can barely make out the big dipper anymore. I need to head out to the sticks again. It's definitely worth a trip to the boonies at some point in your life to see what the sky really looks like.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Well, see this image [gdargaud.net] ? It was taken with an El-Cheapo compact camera, handeld, in the place with the clearest sky on earth [gdargaud.net]. To answer your question: it's so bright that it appears like it's painted on the ceiling in fluorescent paint..
      • How do you figure that Antarctica is clearer than the Atacama desert [wikipedia.org]?
        • by dargaud (518470)
          Seeing measurements over several years (you follow a single star continuously and record its turbulence). Both places have advantages: Atacama is warmer and can be reached all year long by truck. Dome C has less humidity (good for IR and millimetric), better seeing and windows of observation >24 hours.
    • Mind-blowingly amazing - From where I live in Australia, at the right time of the year, the central bulge of the galaxy is more or less right overhead with the arms spreading out on either side from horizon to horizon. Dizzying sense of gazing across unfathomable distances, standing on the shores of the infinite? You better believe it...
    • I've never seen any notion of the Milky Way in the sky... how clear is it in an unpolluted area?

      That is sad. It's probably becoming more and more common for the next generations to never have experienced how we are in this dish of stars, and to see our neighboring galaxies. A big loss in understanding the bigger world.

      • by Stiletto (12066)

        That is sad. It's probably becoming more and more common for the next generations to never have experienced how we are in this dish of stars, and to see our neighboring galaxies. A big loss in understanding the bigger world.

        Not really that sad. It's what we have the Internet for. I've lived most of my life in urban areas, and have myself never seen the Milky Way (or, really, more than about 30 or so of the brightest stars), but now I can if I want to, online. Plus, if for whatever reason one simply has to g

    • Very. At 29.793611s 29.339167e (Google maps) it's spectacular.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      I've never seen any notion of the Milky Way in the sky... how clear is it in an unpolluted area?

      I don't know, I've never seen an unpolluted area.

      (I have worked on 4 continents, up to several hundreds of miles from the nearest street light, which might qualify as "less polluted" areas, but not "unpolluted" by any means.)

  • Amazing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:42PM (#36073810)

    It's an amazing accomplishment and truly a beauty to behold. A survey of his completed image would match perfectly with a monologue from Carl Sagan. Not only does it show the elegance of a galaxy from the inside, but the views at large angles away from the galactic plane show a liberal sprinkling of alien galaxies, the inhabitants of which could scarcely care about us puny humans and our problems.

    -d

    • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Funny)

      by nebaz (453974) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:04PM (#36074060)

      show a liberal sprinkling of alien galaxies...

      Aha! So you admit it! The liberals do want illegal aliens to live here.

      • As usual, Liberals are misunderstood. All they want is to swindle the aliens out of their galaxies so they can have it and profit from them.

    • Re:Amazing (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ChipMonk (711367) on Monday May 09, 2011 @02:12PM (#36074136) Journal
      Salman Khan may yet do one. He did one [khanacademy.org] for the Hubble image that turned up hundreds of galaxies, where we had never seen anything before.
      • I think you misunderstood the message. Sure, you can use a space telescope to get an even deeper look into the universe, billions of lightyears further that he could possibly look due to atmosphere and dust.

        The message is that you can do that. A picture from the space telescope might be pretty, but you quickly toss it aside as something you can't possibly attain yourself, nothing you could ever dictate where to point it at and what to look at. This, OTOH, is something you can do, too! This beauty is at your

        • by ChipMonk (711367)
          I do appreciate your concern for "the message" as you put it, but (1) I do have a telescope, and (2) I still enjoy hearing someone who wants to convey a passion for the subject at hand, whatever that subject may be. Richard Feynman is just as much fun to listen to as Anna Russell ("I'm not making this up, you know!").
        • by jc42 (318812)

          We might add that astronomy is one of the "hard" sciences where amateurs can and do make significant contributions. The explanation is simple: Most professional astronomers are busy studying specific things Out There via the many expensive, high-power telescopes in the world and in orbit. Those telescopes generally have a very small field of view, needed to extract information about single distant objects. But there's an ongoing need for sky surveys, to spot interesting events that are outside the fiel

  • by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday May 09, 2011 @01:47PM (#36073864)

    The world, consisting of Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, California and Oregon. To be fair, he also went to South Africa twice, but really, "traveled the world" seems to be a slight embellishment.

    The accomplishment is nonetheless pretty damn impressive. I wonder how long it took to stitch all those photos together.

    • by Mouldy (1322581)
      The accomplishment is nonetheless pretty damn impressive. I wonder how long it took to stitch all those photos together.

      From the summary; "months" (:
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      I was wondering the same thing. Why bother to include a tidbit like "What might be seen in the northern hemisphere isn't always visible from the south" when your stops include... Nothing but places well inside the northern hemisphere?

    • The world, consisting of Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, California and Oregon. To be fair, he also went to South Africa twice, but really, "traveled the world" seems to be a slight embellishment.

      The accomplishment is nonetheless pretty damn impressive. I wonder how long it took to stitch all those photos together.

      In Soviet Russia, world travels you.

    • How about donating to the project to give him the funds to travel to more locations?

  • Why has it takes scientists so long to work out dark matter? You can see it right there in the picture!

    But seriously, I have looked at the sky where there was very little light pollution and I have never seen the red or white cloud like structures. I guess that comes out with the long exposure. It is pretty cool how much you can see without an actual telescope.

    • by Iskender (1040286)

      But seriously, I have looked at the sky where there was very little light pollution and I have never seen the red or white cloud like structures. I guess that comes out with the long exposure. It is pretty cool how much you can see without an actual telescope.

      These sky photographers tend to overdo it a bit. This is understandable, since it looks good and it's hard to emulate the really weird human vision system.

      However, in reality we perceive the sky with either peripheral vision which is monochromatic or the central vision which is much, much better at seeing blue than red. Which is a shame, since this means the only red you'll ever see in the sky are some profoundly red stars.

      It would be interesting if someone made a similar effort to this and processed it to

    • by Carnildo (712617)

      But seriously, I have looked at the sky where there was very little light pollution and I have never seen the red or white cloud like structures. I guess that comes out with the long exposure.

      Your night vision isn't very good with color. Your camera has no such limitations.

  • ... server capacity exceeded,,,

  • This [megapixelmyth.com] telescope will take 3.2GP images of just a fraction of an arc-minute of the night sky. A complete night sky rendering at that kind of resolution would be immense.
  • And would he still know it if he did?

    • by idontgno (624372)
      The Second Foundationists would make sure he forgot it if he did. So we'll never know.
  • Wow, just zooming in all the way on the photo there is nearly an uncountable number of stars. Zooming out only multiplies the number you can see. I don't know about anyone else, but this makes me feel really really tiny! Even seeing this photo I cannot comprehend how many of these stars and alien solar systems are within our own galaxy. And to think there are numerous other galaxies full of these as well!
    • And clusters, and superclusters...

      Kinda makes our petty quarrels down here about this nation or that border quite insignificant, don't you think?

  • If you believe the current estimate of about a trillion galaxies. Of course they are not evenly distributed nor visible to a photographers camera.
  • by Mojo66 (1131579)
    All Gigapixel web pages I saw use Flash to zoom around. Would it be possible to do the same in HTML5 and if yes do example sites exist?
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Its certainly doable with SVG and some javascript, which I'm not sure if SVG is anywhere in the HTML5 spec, but pretty much every HTML5 capable browser DOES support SVGs enough to do this sort of thing, just needs basic a basic SVG viewer with support for scaling, javascript and images.

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Why would you want SVG for photos, which are bitmap images?

        All you need is a modern browser capable of doing basic AJAX tasks.

        • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

          Probably because a zoom or pan is global, rather than having to scale/offset every tile image individually. Not that that's by any means impossible or even difficult...

    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      You mean like Google Maps?

  • by rlseaman (1420667) on Monday May 09, 2011 @03:36PM (#36075010)

    Very neat little project!

    Once you build a digital image archive of the sky, various whole sky browsers become possible. The gold standard for such is WorldWide Telescope:

    http://worldwidetelescope.org/ [worldwidetelescope.org]

    This permits overlaying various sky surveys at different wavelengths, not just a single picture of the sky.

    The web client is very nice, but the Windows client is something else again. (This is a Microsoft Research project.) You should see it on a planetarium dome.

    Google has another:

    http://www.google.com/sky/ [google.com] ...as well as an Google Earth based client to install.

  • By my count he missed one.
  • Also of note, which I should have added to the summary; some of the tool used to make this included a laptop running Linux, and GIMP - two things near and dear to many slashdoters. I wonder if Nick reads Slashdot.
  • ...on a planet that's evolving
    revolving at nine hundred miles and hour...

  • I have no better words to describe that image. I'm going to stop working now and just stare at this image for the next 30 minutes or so and just wonder....
  • this is pretty, but obviously the product of long exposures (and/or post). are there any similar pics out there that try to represent a real naked-eye view under ideal conditions? i'd like to know what i'd actually personally be able to see of the milky way, etc.

    • Turn the contrast up and the brightness down on your monitor. I think that would be pretty close.
  • Here is a list of hardware and software this guy used. Nice to see open source software contributing to this amazing project. Hardware: Cameras—Finger Lakes ML-8300 monochrome Lenses—Zeiss Sonnar 85mm f2.8 Filters—Astronomik LRGB, Astrodon Ha Mount—Takahashi EM-11 Temma 2 w/ custom armature Generator—Yamaha EF1000iS for USA trips Laptop—Intel Core i7-820QM running Linux Fedora, 8GB RAM w/ 4TB external storage Software: MaximDL—mount control, image capture, and cre
  • It looks kinda smooshed on my smartphone. Maybe I need a microscope?

  • Somuchspace. Gottaseeitall. Gottagotospace.

    Space!

  • So why is the milky way dark through the centre?
    • It's known as a dust lane. The particles of dust absorb light so obscure the stars behind.

      The dust lanes in the Milky way are seen as a dark "constellation" depicting an emu by Australian aborigines:
      <http://www.atnf.csiro.au/research/AboriginalAstronomy/Examples/emu.htm>
  • Does anyone know if the colors in the picture are added? If it was not added how long of an exposure does it take to get all those amazing colors?

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