NAOJ Creates Pocket Planetarium Called "HSC Viewer"

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) has created the ultimate tool for stargazers — a pocket planetarium called the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) Viewer.

In this new website, users can navigate an incredible swath of images collected by the observatory’s Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC), which is attached to their Subaru Telescope in Maunakea, Hawaii. Space cadets can peruse a whopping 80 terabytes of data and gaze into various cosmic phenomena, which is much more comfortable and convenient than launching oneself into space.

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For a site that deals with a ridiculous amount of data, it’s still pretty user-friendly. Users can zoom in on points of interest like galaxies and constellations and see breathtaking images.

Take the Tadpole galaxy, for example. It’s about 400 million light-years away — but look how close it looks in the program! Its tail of stars, gas, and dust looks like a paint smudge. Or a tadpole.

Tadpole Galaxy


Users can also check out a galaxy system researchers call the “Eye of Horus.” The yellow part of the “eye” is about 7 billion light-years from Earth, and bends light from the other galaxies around it.

The "Eye of Horus."


Though NAOJ scientists have already released two surveys from the Hyper Suprime-Cam Subaru Strategic Program (HSC-SSP), this new system is by far the easiest and most accessible way to navigate them.

“Since 2014, we have been observing the sky with HSC, a wide-field camera with high resolution,” Satoshi Miyazaki, lead HSC-SSP scientist says in a press release. “We believe the data release will lead to many exciting astronomical results, from exploring the nature of dark matter and dark energy, as well as asteroids in our own solar system objects and galaxies in the early universe. Moreover, we hope that interested members of the public will also access the data and enjoy the real universe imaged by the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea.”

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