ESO releases 360-degree panoramic map of entire night sky

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Munich, September 15 (ANI): The European Southern Observatory (ESO) has released an amazing, interactive, 360-degree panoramic online map of the entire night sky.

It is first of three images of ESO's GigaGalaxy Zoom project - a new magnificent 800-million-pixel panorama of the entire sky as seen from ESO's observing sites in Chile.

The project allows stargazers to explore and experience the Universe as it is seen with the unaided eye from the darkest and best viewing locations in the world.

This 360-degree panoramic image, covering the entire celestial sphere, reveals the cosmic landscape that surrounds our tiny blue planet.

This gorgeous starscape serves as the first of three extremely high-resolution images featured in the GigaGalaxy Zoom project, launched by ESO within the framework of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).

GigaGalaxy Zoom features a web tool that allows users to take a breathtaking dive into our Milky Way.

With this tool, users can learn more about many different and exciting objects in the image, such as multicolored nebulae and exploding stars, just by clicking on them.

In this way, the project seeks to link the sky we can all see with the deep, "hidden" cosmos that astronomers study on a daily basis.

The projection used in GigaGalaxy Zoom place the viewer in front of our Galaxy with the Galactic Plane running horizontally through the image - almost as if we were looking at the Milky Way from the outside.

From this vantage point, the general components of our spiral galaxy come clearly into view, including its disc, marbled with both dark and glowing nebulae, which harbors bright, young stars, as well as the Galaxy's central bulge and its satellite galaxies.

The painstaking production of this image came about as a collaboration between ESO, the renowned French writer and astrophotographer Serge Brunier, and his fellow Frenchman Frederic Tapissier.

The image is composed of almost 300 fields each individually captured by Brunier four times, adding up to nearly 1200 photos that encompass the entire night sky.

"I wanted to show a sky that everyone can relate to - with its constellations, its thousands of stars, with names familiar since childhood, its myths shared by all civilizations since Homo became Sapiens," said Brunier.

The creators of the GigaGalaxy Zoom project hope that these tremendous efforts in bringing the night sky as observed under the best conditions on the planet to stargazers everywhere will inspire awe for the beautiful, immense Universe that we live in. (ANI)

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