IntroductionSuperCOSMOS is an advanced digitising machine for photographic exposures usually taken on wide-field Schmidt Telescopes. Both traditional glass plates and film-based emulsions can be measured. Part of its programme is to systematically digitise sky survey exposures taken with the UK Schmidt telescope (UKST), the ESO Schmidt, and the Palomar Schmidt, and to make these data publicly available. (The various different sky survey plate/film collections are summarised here. General details of the machine, its programme, and how to apply for an exposure to be scanned can be found here.)
Other digitised sky survey material from similar machines is available for a variety of broad-band surveys. However the SuperCOSMOS Sky Surveys should be particularly valuable to astronomers for several reasons:
GALACTIC PLANE COVERAGE. Eventually the whole Southern Galactic Plane and
Magellanic Cloud regions will be available on-line covering over 4000 sq.degrees.
Narrow-band H-alpha images are complemented by
contemporaneous matching broad-band Short-Red (SR2) exposures taken on non-standard
4-degree field centres (due to the nature of circular aperture of the interference
Both exposures were taken using fine-grained Tech-Pan film based emulsion which has improved resolution and depth c.f. traditional glass-based emulsions such as IIIaF. Further details of the properties of Tech-Pan can be found in Parker & Malin (1999).
Ultimately both the I-band and first epoch SR data (SR1) in the Plane will also be incorporated. These were taken on standard 5-degree field centres on glass plates with the IV-N and IIIaF emulsions. These data will additionally permit H-alpha-R and R-I colours plots for point sources in the Galactic Plane, whilst the first epoch SR1 will enable proper motions to de determined for many stars wrt SR2. These data will greatly assist in the identification of variables, true H-alpha emitting objects etc.
To view the Galactic Plane fields currently on-line in the matched H-alpha/SR2 pass-bands go to Galactic Plane coverage. The survey data will be released in tranches of contiguous regions but users may request special access to an individual field prior to general release if urgently required.
GENERAL SUPERCOSMOS SURVEYS. The whole Southern sky is already available in two colours (blue (UKJ) and red (UKR)). The South Galactic Cap (SGC, 5000 sq.degrees at b < -60) has been scanned in J(B), I, and twice in R. All these data are currently on-line. Data for the rest of the southern sky in I and ESOR are being placed on-line piece by piece. These surveys can be accessed here
A 5x5-degree square deep-field image centred at 21h28m -45 (UKST field 287) will be available soon.
STYLE OF ACCESS. There are four ways to access the SuperCOSMOS Galactic Plane data.
DATA FORMAT RETURNED. If you specify that you want to see a GIF image you will see your piece of sky returned on the web page, but by default we just return the files for you to use with your own software. The images have 0.67 arcsec pixels and are returned in FITS format with a built-in World Co-ordinate System (WCS). The FITS file automatically contains FITS tables listing the associated object catalogues, and if your image viewer is smart enough (like GAIA) you can browse them simultaneously. However you can also download the catalogue separately.
The object catalogues can be returned either as FITS tables, ASCII lists, or tab-separated lists. Various database query and analysis packages (e.g. CURSA) can understand all of these formats. The parameters returned include the obvious things like RA, Dec, l,b, magnitude, ellipticity but also some less obvious but often useful things like image area, quality and blend flags, and so on.
More detail on all these issues can be found in the various sections in the menu bar to the left, especially under Documentation.
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