Seemless Exploration of the Universe With Microsofts’s Worldwide Telescope
Google has had an option now in Google Earth that allows for exploration of the night sky through Google Sky, but Microsoft’s new Worldwide Telescope may be a stronger player in the game.
Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope offers students, teachers and astronomy buffs a chance to seemelessly explore the night sky through a virtual telescope. It allows you to choose from several options including views from the Hubble, Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, Spitzer Space Telescope or others. But one of the greatest features that I have seen are it’s tours. The application offers several interactive guided tours from experts that dive deep into the far reaches of space as they narrate the terabytes of images that are available. To take it a step further, there is an option to create your own tours making it perfect for allowing students to be more than observers.
Navigation of this virtual telescope is similar the drag and drop interface of most map applications, making it simple to use for just about anyone. A search is included to find particular places, and a sidebar with dynamic content provides quick references for finding other objects that are in your field of view. A right click on any of the objects will allow you to get detailed information, and also provides options to check out what other online journals have to say about it.
The quality of user experience makes you wonder how such a resource could be offered free since it provides so much data. It truly navigates in a way that has only been reserved for high end programs. Since it is Windows only though, some users may be forced to stick with the more flexible Google Sky.