you have access to
a digital photograph of the entire night sky! RealSky displays images from the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates and the Southern Sky Surveys' plates. This unprecedented level of telescopic detail, especially of extended images like galaxies, clusters, and
nebulas, provides a invaluable tool for the amateur astronomer. In addition to providing you with single color (one passband) images of the entire sky, RealSky contains an application named RealSkyView that you can use to display and process these amazing images. Order your copy of RealSky North and South now!
The Palomar Observatory Sky Survey
The National Geographic Society's Palomar Observatory Sky Survey project was a seven year effort to construct a photographic atlas of the sky using the 48-inch Oschin Schmidt Telescope on Palomar Mountain. Completed in 1958, this project produced thousands of 14 inch square glass plates, each of which encompassed a 6.4 degree square area (with about a 0.4 degree overlap between plates). Photographed in two wavelength ranges (red and blue),
nebulas and stars down to about magnitude 20 were recorded. Copy sets of the survey (printed on paper and less frequently on glass) became a basic research tool for astronomers everywhere because of the enormous amount of information that they contained.
The Southern Sky Surveys
The RealSky CDs open up an entire new world with the addition of the southern hemisphere!
The red emulsions from the UK Schmidt plates can now be accessed with RealSkyView. These plates were created using the UK Schmidt Telescope (UKST) at Siding Spring, Australia in the 1980's. The Royal Observatory Edinburgh operated the UK Schmidt Telescope (with funds from the UK SERC/PPARC) until 1988 and thereafter by the Anglo-Australian Observatory. This huge storehouse of data has been compressed to fit on 10 CD-ROMs
(plus one installation disc for a total of
11 CD-ROMs included with RealSky South) and covers the entire Southern Hemisphere up to three degrees north declination.
You'll spend hours discovering beautiful objects from "southern skies!"
The Digitized Sky Survey
The Space Telescope Science Institute digitized the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey as part of an intensive eight year effort to prepare the Guide Star Catalog (GSC) for the Hubble Space Telescope. It took five years to accurately scan the plates and convert them into a database. The resulting digitized scans represented a huge quantity of data, with each plate scan measuring 14,000 X 14,000 16 bit pixels; thus, astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute compressed the data by a ratio of ten to one (using an algorithm to minimize information loss) to make it more accessible to researchers. In 1994, the compressed data, dubbed the Digitized Sky Survey, was released to researchers on 102 CD-ROM's.
RealSky: Providing Access for Everyone
In cooperation with both the Space Telescope Science Institute and the
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, a compressed version of the Digitized Sky Survey data, appropriately named RealSky. This set of nine CD-ROM's (eight for data and one for software) contains the E band (red) plates from the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, compressed by a factor of 100, and it also contains
RealSkyView a software package that you can use to display and process the images. For the first time, everyone has access to the actual deep-sky survey plates used by research astronomers!
RealSkyView gives you the power to view and manipulate the RealSky images on both Windows and Macintosh platforms. With RealSkyView, you can display the RealSky images on your computer screen, smooth or sharpen the images, rotate the images, alter the brightness and contrast of the images, quickly set up browse lists for examining the images, and more.
RealSkyView and TheSky: A Match Made in the Heavens
TheSky works in concert with RealSkyView to create a deep-sky observational tool that provides unprecedented power and flexibility. By just clicking a button on TheSky's Image Link toolbar, you can overlay a RealSky or a Digitized Sky Survey image (from RealSkyView) on the TheSky's display. You can then instruct TheSky to display your preferred combination of object labels and reference lines. You can even identify objects in the image by simply clicking on them!
Check out Tom's Corner for a demonstration of the integration between TheSky and RealSkyView.