Software giant Microsoft is now reaching for the stars with the release of its WorldWide Telescope (WorldWideTelescope.org)
* Want to see the same images that scientists at NASA use for their research or perform your own research with those images?
* Or do you want to see the Earth from the same perspective that astronauts see as they descend to Earth?
WorldWide Telescope is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes to enable seamless exploration of the universe.
- Exploring the Sky: Within WorldWide Telescope, you can explore deeply into the sky discovering stars, planets, constellations and rich panoramas. You navigate the same way for each — select a view, select the imagery and explore the images in the field of view.
- Zoom and Pan: WorldWide Telescope supports zooming and panning on objects in the sky. As you move through the sky, thumbnails of celestial objects in that constellation display in the navigation pane below the field of view.
- Orientation in the Sky: WorldWide Telescope provides two mechanisms to orient you in the sky. The first is the Sky Ball which represents the field of view with a flat yellow plane. The plane expands and contracts as you zoom into and out of the sky. The other mechanism is the Constellation Overview which represents the size of the field of view in relation to the constellation boundary. You also can orient yourself by selecting your city as the default sky view.
- Collections: WorldWide Telescope includes a rich set of collections of the deep sky objects including constellations, the solar system, images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, the Spitzer Space Telescope, Sky Surveys, the Messier Catalog, named stars and more.
- Guided tours: A number of expert-created guided tours of the sky, objects in space and collections of celestial objects are built into WorldWide Telescope. Users can create their own tours and share them with others. Slide-based tours are similar to a PowerPoint slide show. Creating tours can be as simple as showing images of deep sky objects or places on the Earth that you have visited. Or it can be as immersive as combining images with art and music to illustrate and enhance your tour. You also can add common license art and music to complement your tour.
- Research the Sky: Using the Finder Scope, it is easy to identify and research objects in the deep sky. The Finder Scope opens a wealth of data and image resources to use when researching the deep sky objects in Set of Identifications, Measurements, and Bibliography for Astronomical Data (SIMBAD), Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), Wikipedia, NASA and the Internet.
Read more on: Microsoft Launches Astronomy Software
The first step is to download and install WWT itself from WorldWideTelescope.org. It took me 30 min to download the software, but of course it depends on the speed of the Internet.
For those who enjoyed the night sky, WorldWide Telescope is one more option (remember Google Sky was launched 2 months ago?) to explore the Universe.