In DepthAstronomy

Small scopes log an ever-changing sky

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 14-15
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6243.14

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Astronomers rely mostly on still images for their research, yet the universe is full of motion and change. Supernovas burst into life; variable stars wax and wane; exoplanets reveal their presence by eclipsing their parent stars. Now a few teams of astronomers are asking: What if we could capture the whole sky regularly enough to create a movie of the heavens? Taking advantage of powerful data processing and storage and, in some cases, cheap off-the-shelf optics, several telescope systems are now doing just that. Run by small teams with modest budgets, most aren't powerful enough to look deep into space beyond our own celestial neighborhood. But there are exceptions. One huge telescope, due to embark on a 10-year survey in the 2020s, is expected to log 20 billion galaxies and 17 billion stars.