Tour the galaxy with this pan-and-scan all-sky picture!

Tour the galaxy with this pan-and-scan all-sky picture!

Tour the galaxy with this pan-and-scan all-sky picture!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
April 28 2011 10:00 AM

Tour the galaxy with this pan-and-scan all-sky picture!

You'll need to clear your schedule for the next few minutes, because you really want to dive into this incredible pan-and-scan image taken of the entire night sky.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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This incredible work is the brainchild of Nick Risinger, who traveled a hundred thousand kilometers in total to get the 37,440 photographs necessary to make this 5000 megapixel mosaic!

It shows the entire sky, and you can play with the interactive version that has toggled constellation outlines and is mapped into equal-area projection, or zoom in and out of the rectangular image. Both are simply amazing.

The images are sharp and clear, with a lot of detail. You can zoom in on the Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, or just something that catches your eye. He used "natural color" (LRGB) filters, with the addition of one that accentuates warm hydrogen gas; you can see that as the diffuse red clouds scattered across the sky. I was floored by the quality of this mosaic, and spent a lot of time just panning around, seeing what there was to see. The region near the galactic center and along the plane are stunning.

You should read his story of how he made it, too. It's inspiring. It took him a long time and an amount of effort I have a hard time comprehending. I'm glad he did, of course, not just because of the beautiful outcome of his travails, but also simply because it makes me happy to know there are people out there so willing to devote so much to doing what they love.

Image used under Creative Commons license, by Nick Risinger, skysurvey.org