Take a Deep Dive into Deep Space

   Take a deep dive into deep space at the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys web site. This is an interactive display using a 10 trillion pixel composite picture of much of the night sky, based on different imaging data sets to create the image. The zoom-in is incredible as the billions of points of light resolve into galaxies, nebulae and other deep sky objects. Some of the datasets even show a spectral display. There are a number of ways to interact with the images including a way to flip back and forth between two images to watch for any objects in motion. Clicking on the screen will bring up options for joining a forum to ask or discuss what you are viewing. There are links to other information about that object or part of the sky.
   The video is a short tour of around Taurus and Orion.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

Also Follow me and other great resources at Feedspot.

100 K Worth of Stars

100,000 Stars

   Folks at Google have just released an interesting display for the Chrome web browser that shows 100,000 stars in the area around our part of the Milky Way Galaxy. The display includes background music and is capable of allowing one to zoom in and out, roll the display in different directions, and select the display to show the spectral index and star colors. Clicking on individually labeled stars zooms into a closer view of the star (artwork), and some text describing some of the features/properties of that star. There is also a tour option that starts close to the Sun and then slowly zooms out with pauses at selected distances to briefly explain that particular point in space.
   Coming across this web site is rather timely as my classes are just now starting their unit on stars, with this week about spectra. Two other similar web sites they will be examining are NASA’s Mission Science web site, and the Chromoscope web site.
   While the 100,000 Stars display is interesting and fun to play around with there are other web-based tools for visualizing our space. There is the World Wide Telescope that does similar things as well as much much more. On a more local perspective there is the Solar System Scope web site, and NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System.

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

   With a combination of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and a technique called gravitational lensing, NASA astronomers have been able to image what is so far the most distant galaxy. This galaxy is estimated to be somewhere around 13.2 billion light years distant, and at that distance the age of the galaxy would be about 200 million years old.
   Gravitational lensing is the term used to describe what happens when light from distant objects passes another celestial object like a galaxy or a cluster of galaxies lying in our line of sight direction – between us and the more distant object. That light is magnified and refracted by the gravitational field of the ‘between’ object. Think of this as being able to use a magnifying lens to enlarge the object being viewed.
   In a related topic the galaxy may actually be about 30 feet closer. Huh?!
   At the recently ended International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting in China members adopted a resolution that agrees with Resolution B2 approved in 2009 which established the Astronomical Unit (au) as a distance of 149,597,870,700 meters, ± 3m (92,955,807.273 miles). This is the mean, or average Earth to Sun distance, or as my students should know, is the semi-major axis of Earth’s slightly elliptically shaped orbit. However they have learned that the value for 1 au is 149,597,870,691 meters. That is a whopping 9 meter (29.5 feet) difference from the IAU’s newly adopted value.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Flight Through the Universe

Among the many Astronomy resources on the Internet is the Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS. This project is all about mapping the universe and specifically it involves mapping 1/4 of the universe. Data from the survey is available for research by the public as well as scientists and educators.
As a classroom resource this web site offers the opportunity for students and teachers from middle school through college to ask questions, conduct guided research projects, or design their own research projects. This is one of the options I have given to my students in the past as a place to do an independent project.
To see how to use the SDSS web site click here to go to their Start Here page.

There are many videos from the SDSS available on their YouTube Channel, including Flight Through the Universeusing data and imagery from the SDSS catalog, by Mark Subbarao and Miguel Aragon, from Johns Hopkins University and the Adler Planetarium respectively.

Click here to see the same Flight Through the Universe but with some ‘cruise’ music added.