Education and Public Outreach

Art installation by SDSS artist in residence Tim Fitzpatrick featuring an SDSS observing plate, on display in the Byre Theatre in St Andrews (UK), November 2015. Credit: T. Fitzpatrick

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey is committed to working towards making the science and engineering results of our surveys accessible to the public. We are also enthusiastic about supporting the use of SDSS data for training and education. We aim to do this through informal and formal education, citizen science, news, and social media. A selection of our Education and Public Engagement activities are described below.


SDSS in Schools

The SDSS voyages logo

SDSS Voyages is a custom resource for education focused explorers of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Specifically designed to meet the needs of educators, SDSS Voyages provides the pathways and supporting resources needed to enable student-led discovery of a variety of astronomfical phenomena using the same data utilized by professional astronomers. Spanish language versions of these resources are now available!

Three people, including Karen Masters, pose with an SDSS plate

Through our program “Plates for Education” we distribute used plug plates to educators at formal and informal educational institutions. Plates are distributed via SDSS Institutions and accompanied by a custom-made poster showing the patch of sky the plate was used to observe, a package of educational materials, and training on the use of SDSS Voyages.

If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact us, and we will help to link you to your nearest SDSS Institution.


SDSS in Undergraduate Education

The FAST logo

The SDSS Faculty and Student Team (FAST) program works with faculty and their students at US institutions with strong track records of serving underrepresented minority students.

SDSS SkyServer hosts all the latest data from SDSS, freely available for all to use. SDSS Voyages provides a user-friendly introduction to Skyserver tools, in addition to educational guides and projects designed to help new users explore the data. Some of the Voyages Expeditions may also be suitable for use in college-level astronomy labs.

A growing set of Jupyter notebooks for use with the SciServer platform are being developed for introductory and upper-level college astronomy lab courses. These Python-based activities, which are designed to be run in the cloud from your web browser, enable the analysis and visualization of the vast SDSS dataset without the need for any additional software or data downloads.


Public Engagement with SDSS

The Galaxy Zoo logo

Galaxy Zoo launched in 2007 to deal with the 1 million images in the SDSS Main Galaxy Sample. It’s now the most productive citizen science project in existence, and this success spawned a “Zooniverse” of other citizen science projects across all areas of science. Join more than a million members of the Zooniverse to do real science online at the Zooniverse.

Additionally, the Zooteach website includes lesson plans and ideas to use Zooniverse projects (including Galaxy Zoo) in education.


Do you want to carry around the SDSS Universe on a t-shirt, mug or tote bag? Then please visit our shop, and help us celebrate and learn about our mission to map the Universe: from planets to stars, galaxies and distant black holes. All profits go to help fund our educational programs as well as efforts to improve the diversity of scientists engaged in our surveys.

a mug showing the SDSS telescope and text reading 'SDSS surveys, mapping the universe while we still can'
Same mug from the other side


Scroll through the SDSS Skies with SkyServer Navigate.

The SDSS Image Gallery

Any SDSS image on the SDSS Web site may be downloaded, linked to, or otherwise used provided that you maintain the image credits (unless otherwise stated, images should be credited to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, or SDSS) and link back to our site at https://www.sdss.org.

We have recently changed our license. SDSS Images may now be used in commercial publications, or for other commercial purposes without explicit approval of the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC). Please visit our Image Use Policy for full details.

A selection of SDSS related videos can be found on our SDSS Youtube Channel.

The below video is a narrated flight through the Universe, which describes the scope of the many SDSS Surveys up to and including SDSS-IV. This video is illustrated with CGI rendering of real data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.


Email us at outreach@sdss.org. We are always keen to hear about your educational use of SDSS data or resources.

SDSS relies on the collaborative efforts of our member scientists and a number of external collaborations for public engagement and outreach and to develop educational content.

Looking for…..

The SDSS EPO works/has worked with a number of collaborations and alliances, including:

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