Google Sky Beats Microsoft To The Punch

March 14 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: 2008   Rating: 7

It was big news when Microsoft demonstrated their WorldWide Telescope software at the TED conference last month. The software, set to go live this spring, allows users to explore the wonders of space via a map of digital images taken by the greatest telescopes around the world.

Then, without much fanfare, Google went ahead and launched Google Sky yesterday, an application that, uh, allows users to explore the wonders of space. Previously only available through Google Earth, it’s now a freestanding application that can be viewed on its own Web browser. It’s got some pretty cool features, like viewing various regions of our universe at different wavelengths (infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, x-ray), viewing with constellation overlays, and listening to podcasts about celestial bodies and upcoming astronomical events.

I don’t know what Microsoft’s product is going to look like, but it seems that they’re getting their data from the same sources (Hubble telescope, Sloan Digital Sky Survey) and that it’s been getting a good reaction. Either way, here’s another great tool for science and education. Astronomers may be able to surf the stars and collaborate in new ways, while teachers get a new interactive resource to use in the classroom. It’s much easier to digest information about the universe when you have a visual simulation to cruise through, rather than having to flip through pages of star charts in a book. Things are bound to get really interesting as these apps become smoother and more information-dense.

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