Alex Szalay, a professor at John Hopkins University, is one of the co-creators of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) SkyServer database. The website provides students and astronomy lovers with the information they need to research, problem solve and discover information about astronomy. The database is connected to a website that allows students and astronomy lovers to explore the world of learning about astronomy in a visual manner—providing views of the night sky without the need for a telescope. The SDSS SkyServer includes a three-dimensional view of one million galaxies and quasars.
As a big contributor to astronomy, the website earned the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award. The award is given to resources that provide the top resource material online to science teachers. In conjunction to receiving the award, the award recipient is able to write and publish an article in Science to provide an explanation on the project. The SDSS SkyServer article was published on August 27, 2010.
The editor-in-chief for Science, Bruce Alberts says that the competition helps to promote and advance learning in science. In addition, the competition helps to recognize those individuals who are heloing to advance this knowledge. When the SDSS SkyServer article released, the hopes were for it to alert science teachers that there is resource available to them that includes valuable free resources to help them create science lesson plans and curriculum.
Traditionally, to conduct research in astronomy, a science student, researcher or other interested party would have to start with the problem in which they wanted to investigate. Then they would have to wait until they could come by a telescope to gather the data necessary to answer the question or resolve the problem they wanted to investigate. In some instances, this could take up to a year because investigators were at the mercy of the night sky. With SDSS SkyServer, however, anyone can jump on and access the information when and where they want and need to.