Thursday, May 5, 2011

All the sky... and I mean all of it

Now readers of Wired and Gizmodo may have already seen this (yeah, like we have such a huge crossover readership) but this is simply too spectacularly nifty not to share. The Photopic Sky Survey is something I would do if 1) I had a daring sense of adventure, 2) had an imagination large enough to conceive of such a project and 3) had astrophotography skills somewhat more accomplished than those of a nearsighted lemur. So what's the big deal? I'll let Nick Risinger explain:

The Photopic Sky Survey is a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky stitched together from 37,440 exposures. Large in size and scope, it portrays a world far beyond the one beneath our feet and reveals our familiar Milky Way with unfamiliar clarity. When we look upon this image, we are in fact peering back in time, as much of the light—having traveled such vast distances—predates civilization itself.
In concrete terms, Risinger took a year to travel the globe, spending an inordinate amount of time in the western states of the U.S. and the western Cape of South Africa to effectively photograph the heavens visible from both the northern and southern hemispheres throughout the year. Encroaching light pollution has dramatically reduced the number of truly dark-sky sites on the Earth today, and Risinger had to travel quite a bit to reach these isolated areas. That's 45,000 miles by air, 12,000 overland. Any way you slice it, that's dedication. Click on the image above for a breathtaking tour of the largest true-color, all-sky photographic survey ever made.

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