Fall 2014

Mapping the Universe: Surveys of the Sky as Discovery Engines in Astronomy

Michael A. Strauss

Astronomers can map the sky in many ways: observing in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, obtaining spectra of stars and galaxies to determine their physical properties and distances, and repeatedly observing to measure the variability, explosions, and motions of celestial objects. In this review I describe recent surveys of the sky astronomers have carried out, focusing on those in the visible part of the spectrum. I describe in detail the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an ongoing imaging and spectroscopic survey of over one quarter of the celestial sphere. I also discuss some of the major surveys planned for the next decade, using telescopes both on the ground and in space.

MICHAEL A. STRAUSS is Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and Associate Chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. His research concerns all aspects of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology. He has published over two hundred refereed papers on subjects ranging from the large-scale distribution of galaxies to the discovery of the most distant quasars known.

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