Monday, February 05, 2007

Cool Sky Map

I came across this cool bit of astronomy software the other day. There seems to be two versions about and They seem to be identical. They allow you to slide around the night sky with or without constellations and to search for your favourite night sky objects (like NGC galaxies), so far, so like any other planetarium software. The cool thing with this software is that it also has the SDSS imaging survey built in. So you can switch to SDSS mode and look at the actual images produced by the Sloan survey. Unfortunately the SDSS doesn't cover the whole sky so many of my favourites aren't in it.

This is really only the start, we have been talking about software like this at work for awhile now, the ultimate (wet) dream for astronomers would be software like this that started in planetarium view but over layed survey areas from the various surveys, or even little symbols to show where the HST had been pointed at an object (The first steps have been made to do this in the Astro Photo section, check it out). You would then be able to click on the little links to take you directly to the data, it would make life much simpler than searching dozens of archives to find out if what you would like to do has already been done, saving time and money for eveyone, plus it would make a great toy for everyone to enjoy.

Give it a go, there's probably plenty of weird things to be seen in the SDSS images.


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IbaDaiRon said...

Mark, what do you & your friends think of Celestia?

Mark Norris said...

I'm not really sure, I haven't really looked at it, just had a quick play around, seemed like it would be good once a few more objects had been loaded, the fact that it zooms to the cores of galaxies so that you can't see anything is pretty annoying. I'm sure it will improve over time.

IbaDaiRon said...

Ahp. I haven't updated my CVS copy and rebuilt for a while.

By the way, any of you guys up on planetary system formation theory? Got some questions but not sure who to fire them at....

Mark Norris said...

I'm sure someone around here knows something about planetary formation. Perhaps only at the undergraduate level though.

IbaDaiRon said...

All right...OK if I lob them at you then for possible dispersion?

Can a star as massive as Canopus (ca 8~9 Msol) form a stable planetary system?

Are there any online (or Mac OSX compatible) programs capable of simulating the development of a system around such a star? (I've used StarGen, but it's geared toward Sol-sized G-type stars; the primaries always end up with characteristics very near to Sol's. I've considered going through the source and making changes myself, but haven't had the time/energy yet.)

Any info appreciated! :)

Mark Norris said...

As far as I know a star of 8-10 Msun should be capable of forming planetary systems, at least large gas giants or brown dwarfs, as long as they form far enough out they should be fine, until the star goes supernovae that is. Which would only take about 50 million years. So anything that forms probably wouldn't last very long anyway.

IbaDaiRon said...

Oh. I thought I read somewhere (WP?) that Canopus is too small to supernova. Hmmm.

What a bummer. 50 million years isn't time enough for anything interesting to happen.

Although Granny Luce might manage an intelligible, grammatical post given that long...

Nah! My money's still on the monkeys and Shakespeare. :)

Mark Norris said...

It may be just to small, I'm a bit fuzzy on the actual mass required to go supernova, it depends on different things. Either way the star will still have a very short main sequence lifetime, even a red giant phase would be pretty impressive.

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