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Johns Hopkins UniversityArts and Sciences Magazine

Worth A Surf

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey's SkyServer website is a product of the most ambitious astronomical survey ever taken, and it brings the universe into the homes and onto the computer screens of professional and amateur astronomers alike. It's now an award-winning website, too: Built by a team led by Arts and Sciences' Alexander Szalay, it recently won a Science Prize for Online Resources in Education, known as SPORE, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

SkyServer's MapQuest-like interface makes more than 350 million stars and galaxies available to students, teachers, and the public and allows site visitors to pan through the sky, zoom in and out, and click on stars and galaxies for more information.

"This is a unique opportunity for students, teachers, and the public to learn about astronomy. Basically, anyone with Internet access can now interact with the data in the same way that professional scientists do," says Szalay, the Alumni Centennial Professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy.



NGC 5792, a spiral galaxy that we see nearly edge-on. The bright red star is in the Milky Way, very, very close to us compared to the distant galaxy. The star makes a colorful counterpart to the blue galaxy, although the two are unrelated.