This photo is what you get when you point a massive 4.1 meter telescope (VISTA in Chile) at an unremarkable patch of night sky and capture six thousand separate exposures that provide an effective “shutter speed” of 55 hours. It’s an image that contains more than 200,000 individual galaxies, each containing countless stars and planets (to put the image into perspective, the famous Hubble Ultra-Deep Field contains “only” around 10,000 galaxies). And get this: this view only shows a tiny 0.004% of the entire sky!
NASA has released a gigantic catalog of the night sky that contains more than 563 million stars, galaxies, asteroids, planets, and objects. The images were captured by the infrared cameras of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, which has been collecting data for the past two years. After capturing more than 2.7 million images of the sky, NASA created an epic panorama showing the entire sky by stitching together 18,000 of those images. You can view the panorama in a zoomable browser here or download the 180MP/73.5MB photograph here.
Mapping the Infrared Universe: The Entire WISE Sky (via Quesabesde)
Reddit user tirceol‘s father is an amateur astronomer who captures some amazing photographs of space from his front yard by hooking up a camera to his telescope’s eyepiece. He uses everything from a webcam to a Meade camera to capture the images, which are sometimes composites created using multiple photos. The above image shows the Andromeda galaxy 2.5 million light years away.
Amateur astronomy enthusiasts may be content with shooting the stars with a DSLR through a telescope, but what would a consortium of astronomy institutes use for photographing the night sky? The answer is the OmegaCam, a giant 1,700-lb camera found at the heart of the largest telescope designed for visible light surveying: the VST. It uses 32 separate CCD sensors that work together to form a giant 268-megapixel sensor, capturing 30 terabytes worth of photographs every year. The photograph seen above is the first released photo shot with this massive camera.
(via PhysOrg via Engadget)
Update: We’ve posted some photographs of OmegaCAM here.