How-To Geek

9 Gigapixel Photo Captures 84 Million Stars

The European Southern Observatory has released an absolutely enormous picture of the center of the Milky Way captured by their VISTA telescope–the image is 9 gigapixels and captures over 84 million stars.

From the press release:

The large mirror, wide field of view and very sensitive infrared detectors of ESO’s 4.1-metre Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) make it by far the best tool for this job. The team of astronomers is using data from the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea programme (VVV), one of six public surveys carried out with VISTA. The data have been used to create a monumental 108 200 by 81 500 pixel colour image containing nearly nine billion pixels. This is one of the biggest astronomical images ever produced. The team has now used these data to compile the largest catalogue of the central concentration of stars in the Milky Way ever created.

Want to check out all 9 billion glorious pixels in their uncompressed state? Be prepared to wait a bit, the uncompressed image is available for download but it weighs in at a massive 24.6GB.

84 Million Stars and Counting [via Wired]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/25/12

Comments (15)

  1. Murphy

    I wonder when NASA will release all “unphotoshoped” photos of our moon? Probably never as they have too much to hide.

  2. Gian-Luigi Valle

    How long until Nikon makes a 9 Gigapixel camera? :D

  3. Mark


    Thats just ridiculous. Keep your aluminum foil hat on. You’ll be ok.

  4. StarMan

    What software/hardware does one need to open this behemoth?

  5. stipa071

    Why didn’t they upload it on, that would be great because we all could see it in all its glory, and play with it.

  6. mike c

    just i dont care nothing, but it takes my attention, at least it is not patched by the “usa national airspace” dept.

  7. Don

    Thanks for the laugh. I needed a little brainless stupidity to top off my day #smh

  8. Ian

    Can’t see a download link for the photo :-( Wanted to play with it and just see if Photoshop could open it.

  9. buchno

    “For the time being the file is available via this BitTorrent magnet link:

    The MD5 Checksum of the file is: d0ad08f19879aa68360a10f7c430c6b9”

  10. Ushindi

    84 million? I only counted a little over 83 million. They had better count again.

  11. Smartron

    Does the image offer “mouse over”.
    I have a registered star.

  12. KiwiSATX

    You can see the little “You are here ” arrow sign pointing to earth too, if you zoom in and use a spacial distortion algorithm to reverse your viewing angle… But only when wearing an aluminum foil hat! :-)

  13. bedlamb

    84 million?
    My daughter did a painting of ALL of the stars. All 32 of them.

  14. Former Nameless King

    Isn’t there some way to get the Full picture without having to DOWNLOAD a program?!?! I have been doing a search for DAYS and I’m going CRAZY here!!!

  15. Former Nameless King

    Ok, thank you, developers, for the link to the WHOLE file. I am very appreciated. But two questions: Is there a way to down load the 25-ish GB version without having to wait a month for it to finish? And no, I do not want to have to download or purchase anything, use a magnet link that I have to pay for, etc. Also, I do not have photoshop. How do I get it for free, or if I can’t, convert the .psb file to a .png?

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