World first: Aussie astronomers digitally map southern sky

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

The Australian National University (ANU) is conducting a world-first program to digitally map the southern sky using a specially constructed telescope called Skymapper, and in another global first will provide the data free to the world via a virtual observatory.

Skymapper is the first of a new breed of dedicated "rapid survey" telescopes, built by the ANU's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA) at Mount Stromlo observatory in Canberra.

Funded by insurance from the January 2003 bushfires that destroyed most of Mount Stromlo's telescopes, the Skymapper project will take five years to map the southern sky and when finished will have created Australia's largest non-proprietary data set - a whopping half-petabyte of astronomical information.

"Telescopes such as Skymapper are really a portend of a shift in how we will do astronomy in the future," said Stefan Kellar of the RSAA.

"We will see an increasing reliance on globally distributed Web-based datasets that will be brought together by the concept of the 'virtual observatory'," he said.

Skymapper will have a huge scientific impact because it is covering such a large area of sky, something that has only recently become feasible.

"Prior to a few years ago the only way we could perform something like a southern sky survey was with photographic plates, which are rather insensitive and hard to characterize, so the science we can extract from them is rather limited," Kellar explained.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Andrew Hendry

Computerworld
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?