Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Rediscover Your Place in the Galaxy
September 15, 2009 4:37 AM   Subscribe

Through three giant images, the Gigagalaxy Zoom project reveals the full sky as it appears with the unaided eye from one of the darkest deserts on Earth, then zooms in on a rich region of the Milky Way to reveal three amazing, ultra-high-resolution images of the night sky that online stargazers can zoom in on and explore in an incredible level of detail.
posted by Effigy2000 (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the European Southern Observatory.
posted by Sova at 4:51 AM on September 15, 2009


I want to go out to a desert just to be able to see the night sky like this. A couple of nights ago, the sky in Beijing was clear enough that I could see a whopping 4 stars.
posted by flippant at 5:13 AM on September 15, 2009


"I want to go out to a desert just to be able to see the night sky like this."
I've observed at ESO's La Silla site several times - it's a fantastic site. The only man made lights you see are a tiny cluster out on the horizon - everywhere else it's just black. Every time I go, I just end up sitting outside looking up and boggling at everything overhead.
I'm supposed to know the sky is full of stars, but when it's like that it's just incredible and blows me away every time.
posted by edd at 5:42 AM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Would it be possible to "normal peopl" to come visit the observatory? Just to hang out and gaze, I mean?
posted by flippant at 6:22 AM on September 15, 2009


Kinda makes you feel small don't it?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:43 AM on September 15, 2009


Would it be possible to "normal peopl" to come visit the observatory

The observatory proper, not during observations, and many don't have visitor centers. However, the land near them is often open and is just as dark.

There are also some Dark Sky Preserves that offer truly dark skies. The seeing isn't as good, being at lower altitude and in more humid conditions, but for the naked eye, Pennsylvania's Cherry Springs State Park or Natural Bridges National Monument is just as good as Mona Kea or the Atacama Desert in Chile.
posted by eriko at 6:53 AM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah is famous for its night sky and the lack of artificial light helps to highlight this.

Bryce is a phenomenal place for stargazing, but before planets and stars appear, look quickly for the rare sight of Earth's penumbra. After the last light of the setting sun fades from the highest clouds, suddenly a purple band will appear directly above the eastern horizon. This is the edge of Earth's own shadow being projected on to the atmosphere.
posted by netbros at 7:15 AM on September 15, 2009


Wow, what a cool app...

...this would be if it weren't horribly executed. Apart from the main gigazoom view (which doesn't work at all in Safari), this is just a mess of weird interfaces, spastic UI, and muddy photos. Not normally part of the snark brigade, but "meh."
posted by bjrubble at 7:27 AM on September 15, 2009


Also check out the World Wide Telescope (PC client or silverlight browser client), which has all of this space imagery plus gobs more.
posted by Diddly at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2009


Cheers! If I ever go to the States, Utah will be on my list! I have to see the Milky Way with my own eyes.
posted by flippant at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2009


Being at sea is also wonderful for seeing unpolluted skies. That may seem obvious, but it blew me away, more than anyplace I've been on land.
posted by hypersloth at 8:57 AM on September 15, 2009


I just happened to be watching the following, and thought i should share it with anyone who liked this post:

Cosmic Quandaries with Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

If you've got some time to spare, its a great video about our fascinating universe. There is alot of captivating things in the video to think about while your staring at the night sky.
(if you can't watch it all, his closing remarks are amazing to think about)
posted by Merik at 9:26 AM on September 15, 2009


this site is getting boned to hell and back right now.
posted by shmegegge at 9:30 AM on September 15, 2009


Reverse it, and you've got the Total Perspective Vortex.
posted by SansPoint at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2009


(if you can't watch it all, his closing remarks are amazing to think about)

Unfortunately, his remark about the proportion of the elements is incorrect, or at least misleading. By weight, the elemental makeup of the human body differs radically from that of the universe as a whole. We're 65% oxygen by weight, and only 10% hydrogen, while the universe is more like 73% hydrogen and 10% oxygen. (See tables here.) Tyson's statement is closer to accurate in terms of mole-fraction abundance instead of mass-fraction abundance, but still not entirely correct: neon, not nitrogen, is next after carbon in the universe.

His other remark about the possibility of superhuman intelligence is a simplistic gloss son a debatable subject, but probably appropriate a lay audience.
posted by frankchess at 5:27 PM on September 15, 2009


That should have been "gloss on a debatable subject, but probably appropriate for a lay audience."
posted by frankchess at 5:29 PM on September 15, 2009


"simplistic gloss on a debatable subject, but probably appropriate for a lay audience"

Yes, he was speaking about heavily complex subjects to people who are not astrophysicists or biochemists. deGrasse seeks to inspire people in general to become interested in the science of the world around them. Your criticism as a whole seems to gloss over the purpose of the talk, simpley so you have an opportunity to show how superior you are to "lay people".

Also, the point of his pondering super human intelligence was not to argue about the implication of fractional differences in DNA, but to get people to consider how simple minded and young our species is compared to the possible levels to which intelligence can evolve.
posted by Merik at 2:59 AM on September 16, 2009


Did you know that there are over 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms in your body right now?*
posted by not_on_display at 4:32 AM on September 16, 2009


« Older Keith Floyd...  |  Beth Rickey, instrumental in t... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments