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A Trillion-Pixel Image of the Night Sky

·1 min


If you think your new digital camera produces massive files, think again. Yesterday, at the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society here, astronomers presented the largest color image of the night sky ever made, at over 20 million megabytes. The good news: it’s free for all to explore. The bad news: you won’t live long enough to scrutinize all of it. Created by stitching together millions of images made over the past decade, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey image lets you zoom in on any part of the night sky (galaxy M33 is shown here), and contains half a billion stars and galaxies. The new Sloan Survey data release also provides additional information on motions and distances of countless stars and galaxies. According to astronomer Michael Blanton of New York University, it’s only a matter of time before you will be able to access the new night sky map through Google Sky, the celestial counterpart of Google Earth. If you can’t wait to explore, check out Sloan’s SkyServer, where you can zoom in on any of the 1.2 trillion pixels.