Space telescope Gaia will change astronomy

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Gaia's first star catalog to be released 14 Sept 2016

Historian: The Gaia catalog released tomorrow will show over two million stars and other objects, and changes in all of these. A Nature story says that this will be a thousand times more extensive and ten times more precise than anything else so far.

Physicist: ESA's Gaia home page is a gold mine of information about this great mission and about astronomy in general. This page is especially well laid out, with nicely organized links down the two side panels and attention-getting visual links down the center. Highly recommended.

ESA's Gaia home page [link]

Nature story about the catalog release [link]

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ESA space telescope Gaia's first star map

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Gaia's first density map

Historian: Gaia started her scientific work July 2014. Data released 14 Sept 2016 were from Gaia's work up to September 2015. That data has the precise position and the brightness of 1,142 million stars. The image above shows the density of stars in our galaxy (greater brightness = greater density).

Physicist: This is just a taste of things to come. Already Gaia tells us positions to a precision of 300 microarcseconds which is equivalent to a human hair seen from a distance of 20 miles. (Gaia aims to improve this to 10 microarcseconds which is equivalent to a human hair seen from a distance of 621 miles.) Already we discover in Gaia's data that our galaxy is larger than thought.

Gaia's first star map explained [link]

Press conference announcing first map [link]

Story in Science [link]

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Nice video

Already the first results given by the space telescope Gaia mission [link] are being turned into super videos. Our link below takes you to one published today by Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Gaia: Here Comes the Sun [link]

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