World first: Aussie astronomers digitally map southern sky

Digital map of southern sky available free online through a ‘virtual observatory’.

The Skymapper telescope will be housed at the ANU's Siding Springs observatory and will be a fully automated, remote facility capable of calibrating and adjusting itself throughout the night to adapt to prevailing conditions.

"The preoccupation of the Skymapper will be the Southern Sky Survey, which will be a five-year multi-colour and multi-epoch survey of the entire southern sky," Kellar said.

Everything south of the celestial equator will be imaged in six filters, with each filter having six exposures allowing astronomers to build a map of what the sky looks like in different colours, as well as seeing how it changes over time.

The telescope will generate around 0.8 terabytes of data per night, with one image required every 20-25 seconds.

Skymapper's focus will extend from nearby solar system objects all the way out to the edge of the optically observable universe, some 12.8 billion light years away.

"In that dataset we can extract those extremely rare but very important objects that have eluded us thus far, that give us important constraints on the typical parameters of the universe," Kellar said.

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Andrew Hendry

Computerworld

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