I was getting my hopes up about Microsoft’s new Virtual telescope — I’m fairly sure I recently saw a presentation about it amongst the TED Talks podcasts I download. As I recall, it looked pretty fabulous. (Ah, yes: Roy Gould & Curtis Wong: WorldWide Telescope)
Microsoft has launched WorldWide Telescope, a free tool that stitches together images from some of the best ground- and space-based telescopes. …
“Users can see the X-ray view of the sky, zoom into bright radiation clouds, and then cross-fade into the visible light view and discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from a thousand years ago,” explained Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
But of course there’s a catch:
To use the new system, users need to download WorldWide Telescope from the web. It only runs on Windows operating systems.
🙂 Here’s something new in the system requirements though:
…Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista …
Macs must run Windows OS
In spite of the general annoyance that I’m going to have to crank up Windows when I get onto my MacBook Pro later today, it’s kind of nice to see Macs listed under Windows requirements.
Other applications have been available for longer.
For example, Stellarium is a free open source tool that gives people a chance to access more than 210 million stars, in addition to planets and moons.
The project was launched in 2001 by Fabien Chereau, a Research Engineer at the Paris Astronomical Observatory, and is used in many planetariums.
Like WorldWide Telescope the software allows users to record and play their own tours of the Universe.
Earlier this morning I looked at the latest Astronomy Picture of the Day — a photo of one of Saturn’s moons: Ancient Craters of Southern Rhea. I realised that such photos are now ‘commonplace’, almost ‘ordinary’. Certainly I take it for granted that I’ll see a new photo like that every day.
And yet, they are anything but commonplace and ordinary.
It’s only some 50 years since Sputnik became the first artificial satellite to orbit our planet, when we first saw our home from the outside. Now we routinely view objects that are hundreds, thousands and even billions of light years distant, some of them from up close. That’s amazing, not ordinary.