Tuesday, May 08, 2018

An Interactive Map of 1.7 Billion Stars

The European Space Agency's ESASky 2.2 is an interactive map of the galaxy. The map uses imagery from ESA's Gaia mission. The Gaia mission's aim is to make the most accurate map of our Galaxy using observations from the Gaia satellite, which is in orbit around the sun.

My favorite feature of ESA's interactive star map is the 'Explore random target' button. This button uses ESA's Infinite Improbability Drive to instantly transport you to a random location in the universe. Click the button and the map shows you a random galaxy, star cluster or nebula. An information window provides information about the random astronomical feature displayed and a link to read more about it on Wikipedia.

ESASky is in fact a great place to learn about the universe. If you click on the 'Explore publications data for this region' an overlay will map locations in the current map view with links to academic articles about the astronomical location. The 'explore image observations' button will show you a list of science-ready images and spectra available for the current field of view.
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