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A WISE View of the Entire Sky

As part of an all-sky astronomical survey, NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (or WISE) satellite took over 2.7 million images and beamed back 5 trillion bytes of data to eager astronomers back on Earth. This composite image is made up of 18,000 images covering the sky and shows more than 560 million stars and galaxies! You’ll notice that the prominent Milky Way Galaxy runs horizontally at the centre of the map.

The mosaic image has an oval shape and that is because of the method used to render the 3D sky onto a 2D map.

The sky can be thought of as a sphere that surrounds us in three dimensions. To make a map of the sky, astronomers project it into two dimensions. Many different methods can be used to project a spherical surface into a 2-D map. The projection used in this image of the sky is called Aitoff, named after the geographer who invented it. It takes the 3-D sky sphere and slices open one hemisphere, and then flattens the whole thing out into an oval shape.

Have a look at the full image after the jump.

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The Milky Way Panorama

I’m told the universe is big and I’m not the centre of it. I thought it was really jealousy on the part of my detractors, but the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) has proved them right. Bugger.

The ESO’s Gigagalaxy Zoom project has managed to condense the entire Milky Way Galaxy into one cosmically awesome image. Over 1200 raw photographs taken with a Nikon D3 camera and 120 hours of collective exposure resulted in a stunning 800-million-pixel composite panorama of the Milky Way, as seen from Earth. Serge Brunier and Frédéric Tapissier were the two French photographers that took the photos from the Atacama Desert in Chile and on La Palma, one of the Canary Islands.

This starscape is one of three high resolution images that make up the GigaGalaxy Zoom project. The other images are slated for release this month.

Take a drive through the Milk Way using GigaGalaxy Zoom.

[via Popular Science]