Categories: Astrophotos

Photopic Sky Survey


The Photopic Sky Survey, the largest true-color all-sky survey – along with a constellation and star name overlay option – is available here.

For more detail on how it was created read on…

Nick Risinger decided to take a little break from work and embark on a 45,000 miles by air and 15,000 by land journey – along with his Dad, brother and a carload of astrophotography gear – to capture the biggest true color picture of the universe ever. As you do…

The requirement for the long journey is all about trying to snap the whole universe from the surface of a rotating planetary body in a solar orbit – and with a tilted axis yet. So what might be seen in the northern hemisphere isn’t always visible from the south. Likewise with the seasons, what may be overhead in the summer is below the horizon in the winter.

On top of that, there are issues of light pollution and weather to contend with – so you can’t just stop anywhere and snap away at the sky. Nonetheless, with a navigational computer to ensure accuracy and over the course of one year – Risinger broke the sky down into 624 areas (each 12 degrees wide) and captured each portion through 60 exposures. Four short, medium, and long shots with each of six cameras were taken to help reduce noise, satellite trails, and other inaccuracies.

Nick Risinger preparing an array of cameras in Colorado to shoot part of the five gigapixel Photopic Sky Survey image. Credit: Risinger/Photopic Sky Survey.

Further reading: Photopic Sky Survey home page (includes a description of the hardware and software used).

Steve Nerlich

Steve Nerlich is a very amateur Australian astronomer, publisher of the Cheap Astronomy website and the weekly Cheap Astronomy Podcasts and one of the team of volunteer explainers at Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex - part of NASA's Deep Space Network.

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