Dominic Ford, Editor
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An international team of astronomers have released the largest and most precise census of the stars in our galaxy that has ever been made, based on observations by the Gaia space observatory.
Gaia Early Data Release 3 catalogues the positions and brightnesses of nearly two billion stars, including measurements of the distances to about 1.5 billion stars.
This detailed map will allow astronomers to test theories of how our galaxy formed, and to identify groups of stars moving in similar ways which may represent the remnants of smaller galaxies which merged with our own in its early history.
To find out more about the data release and the challenges of making such a catalogue, I spoke to some of the astronomers in Cambridge who worked on the data release. The interviews below were released at 11am on 3 December, jointly by Cambridge University and In-The-Sky.org.
|The sky on 03 December 2020|
18 days old
All times shown in EST.
The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.
An artist's impression of Gaia. © European Space Agency (ESA)