A section of the Milky Way in microwaves. Credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team
If you’ve ever wondered what the Orion Nebula looks like in the far-infrared or what the Milky Way looks like at microwave wavelengths then you’re going to like Chromoscope. This exciting new website is the brainchild of professional astronomers Stuart Lowe, Rob Simpson and Chris North, who’ve brought together several all sky maps of the night sky (made observing at different wavelengths) into one clever interactive tool.
It couldn’t be easier to use. You can switch between different wavelengths quickly with the slide of the wavelength bar at the top right of your screen, or by jumping to them with a keyboard shortcut. Plus there’s a really handy search function built in, along with the ability to overlay labels onto the view.
I’ve found it fun to look at objects well-known to amateur astronomers whilst moving the slider — thus revealing them (quite literally) in a different light. From the dust enshrouded heart of our galaxy seen at visible wavelengths to its glowing core in the far-infrared, after a few minutes you’ll quickly begin to see why professional astronomers observe different wavelengths of radiation to get the big picture of what’s happening in the Universe.