3 December 2009
Astronomers from The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics and Cardiff University today revealed a new way for members of the public to explore the galaxy. Their online tool, Chromoscope, allows anyone to view the Milky Way and the distant Universe more easily than ever before. The site shows the sky in a range of wavelengths, from high-energy gamma rays through to the longest radio waves.
Lead developer, Stuart Lowe, from the University of Manchester, remarked that Chromoscope is a collaborative project.
"Chromoscope uses data from a range of observatories, including the giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank", he said, "this allows people to see the connections between the night sky we see with our own eyes and the sky that astronomers explore in different wavelengths, such as radio and the infrared."
Project member Robert Simpson, from Cardiff, said
"Chromoscope sheds new light on familiar objects, such as the Orion nebula, our closest stellar nursery. This view of the Universe has been familiar to professional astronomers for a long while, but Chromoscope makes it accessible to everyone."
The Chromoscope site was launched at the dotAstronomy conference in Leiden, Netherlands. dotAstronomy is the worlds largest annual conference dedicated to work which combines cutting-edge astronomy with the latest on the web technology.
Collaborator, Chris North from Cardiff University also a researcher on BBCs long-running Sky at Night programme commented
"We wanted to create something that was accessible to not only the general public, but also schools. Chromoscope can be downloaded and then used without an internet connection or placed on a USB memory stick and passed around."
The project involves data from ROSAT (X-ray), the Digitized Sky Survey (optical), IRAS (infrared), WMAP (microwave) and other all-sky astronomical surveys. There are more wavelengths lined up and ready to go in the near future. It is available at http://www.chromoscope.net.
Dr Stuart Lowe
The University of Manchester
+44 (0)161 275 4142
e-mail: stuart.lowe "at" manchester.ac.uk
+44 (0)7929 508961
e-mail: robert.simpson "at" astro.cf.ac.uk
+44 (0)7815 115636
e-mail: chris.north "at" astro.cf.ac.uk