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Artist appointed to sky-mapping project

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A University of St Andrews collaboration to create the most detailed 3D map of the Universe ever made has employed a Fife artist as its first artist in residence.

Installation artist, Tim Fitzpatrick, has joined the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) – an international partnership mapping the skies.

Begun in 2000, the project has captured colour images of more than a third of the entire sky using twin telescopes in New Mexico and Chile (one in each hemisphere) and has measured the compositions and distances of more than three million stars and galaxies.

Now, Dr Anne-Marie Weijmans of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews has worked with Mr Fitzpatrick to create Shine – an interactive exhibit combining art and music with SDSS data to enhance public understanding of how light works.

Shine: Code for Everything III – currently on display at the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) – shows Mr Fitzpatrick’s artistic response to the scientific instruments on display at the museum, alongside historic artefacts as part of the gallery’s theme of “seeing and believing”.

Dr Weijmans said: “Working with Tim on Shine really showed us the impact art can have in engaging people with science and scientific data. Many visitors say they had never been to a science exhibit before, but they were drawn in by the art and want to learn more about the science that inspired it.”

sky-mapping-mainbody-headshot‌Mr Fitzpatrick (pictured left) said: “I’ve been exploring the hidden messages encoded in emission line spectra. These spectra are so beautiful, and I want to help people become more familiar with their existence.

“I’m excited to be continuing my work to bring such exciting science to a new audience.”

His new role as SDSS artist in residence will also help other artists connect with SDSS researchers, explains Karen Masters of Haverford College in the United States, the SDSS’s Scientific Spokesperson.

She said: “Tim will help make the data from SDSS more accessible outside of the scientific community and he will also help our scientists gain a new perspective on our own work. We are delighted to have Tim as our Artist in Residence.”

Mr Fitzpatrick’s work is on display at MUSA on The Scores in St Andrews from Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and on Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm.

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Image captions

Top: ​An artistic display of fragments of SDSS spectra, adapted from the ‘Shine’ exhibit now on display at MUSA

Middlle: ​Tim Fitzpatrick, Artist in Residence, Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Bottom: ​A collage of SDSS spectra shown as circles and lines, adapted from the ‘Shine” exhibit now on display at MUSA

Credit © Tim Fitzpatrick, Artist in Residence, Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Notes to new editors

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office. Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108, 07714 140 559 or fm43@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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