Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Funds 20 Years of Sky Observations
One-quarter of the funding for SDSS comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
This week marks the twentieth anniversary of "first light" for the telescope behind the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which has gone on to create by far the largest three-dimensional map of the Universe ever made. Early in the morning of May 10th, 1998, the observers and engineers pointed the Sloan Foundation Telescope to the celestial equator and light went through to the survey's exquisitely sensitive camera.
The telescope's mirror, 2.5 meters (8 feet) in diameter, is small by astronomy research telescope standards, but powerful because it can see a large area of the sky simultaneously. Astronomers have used it to make an enormous, highly-detailed map - a map which covers one-third of the night sky, with measurements of hundreds of thousands of Milky Way stars and distances to more than four million galaxies. All the data collected by the telescope is available free to anyone online, and all images are open access under the SDSS's Image Use Policy....