M51 from SDSS data visualized with SciServer

SciServer is the official science platform for SDSS catalog data. SkyServer and CasJobs remain essentially the same, and now you can access them through SciServer, which lets you do so much more to get the most out of your research and teaching with SDSS data.

What you can do

You and your students can access Terabytes of SDSS data, and you can start right away!

SciServer Compute gives you free, immediate access to our virtual computing system to search, analyze, and visualize SDSS data – entirely in your web browser, without having to install or configure any software.

SciServer gives you access to full catalog data from every SDSS Data Release, up to and including the current Data Release 16.

In addition to Compute, SciServer offers several other interfaces for accessing SDSS data. With these other tools, you can:

What datasets are available

SciServer gives you access to SDSS catalog data that you can query from SkyServer or CasJobs, or from inside a Jupyter notebook script running in SciServer Compute. We also provide access to raw imaging and spectroscopy data as FITS files as SciServer Data Volumes, which you can see in the Files tab of your SciServer dashboard; to work with these files, create a Compute container with the appropriate Data Volume mounted.

If you are new to the SDSS, we recommend getting familiar with the structure of the data by using SkyServer’s menu-based search features, and then seeing which data tables contain which parameters by exploring the SDSS Database Schema Browser.

This section describes how to work with both catalog and file-based data.

SDSS catalog data in SciServer

SDSS catalog data is available in databases. To query one of the SDSS databases using CasJobs, select its name from the Context menu just above the query window. The contexts holding SDSS data are DR16DR15, etc.

To access one of the SDSS databases from inside a SciServer Compute notebook, specify its name as the context in the appropriate place in your SciServer.CasJobs.executeQuery(sql, context) or SciServer.CasJobs.submitQuery(sql, context) commands: for example, as

SciServer.CasJobs.executeQuery("select top 10 * from photoobj", context="DR16")

Table nameDescriptionSize (rows)Example queryExample notebook
specObjSpectroscopic data from SDSS-I/-II/SEGUE/BOSS/eBOSS spectrograph, best measurement for each sky object5,107,045select top 10 * from specobjExample notebook
apogeeStarSpectroscopic data from APOGEE, links to stellar parameters and all visits473,307select top 10 * from apogeeStarExample notebook
sppParamsStellar parameters calculated from SEGUE optical spectroscopy1,843,200select top 10 * from sppParamsExample notebook
photoObjPhotometric data from the original SDSS camera, best measurement for each sky object 794,328,715select top 10 * from photoObjExample notebook
zooSpecHuman classifications of galaxies from SDSS spectra from the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project667,944select top 10 * from zooSpecExample notebook

SDSS file-based data as Data Volumes

Data Volume nameDescriptionSize (total number of files)Size (bytes)Example notebook
SDSS DR16 optical spectraFITS files of optical spectra measured by the eBOSS spectrograph
MaNGAFITS files from the MaNGA IFU spectrograph
SDSS DASAll FITS files generated by all phases of the original SDSS-I/-II survey from 1998 to 2007

In addition to the data described here, SciServer also includes all catalog data releases throughout the entire history of the SDSS, back to Data Release 1 from 2002.

We also provide catalog data for two additional datasets: Stripe82 contains all photometric data for the repeat observations of the SDSS supernova survey, while RunsDB contains all photometric data for all SDSS observations, including overlap areas.

Teaching with SciServer

SciServer is an excellent resource for teaching. Your students, at any level, can experience science using the data and tools of modern science. Many instructors have created inquiry-based activities using SDSS data. See the SciServer Education page for more information.

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