A lot of people don’t realise it, but since May 2008, it has been possible to travel through the galaxy on your computer. That’s when Microsoft Research released the public beta of WorldWide Telescope, a powerful piece of downloadable desktop software that allows people to zoom through the galazy, visiting planets, constellations, even nearby galaxies.
The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 platform that allows your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from ground and space-based telescopes around the world for a seamless exploration of the universe.
You can choose from a growing number of tours of the sky guided by astronomers and educators from some of the most famous observatories and planetariums in the country. You can pause the tour, explore on your own, and then rejoin the tour if you like – just where you left off.
Since its release, almost 2 million people around the world have downloaded this free desktop observatory, called a “phenomenal resource for enthusiasts, students, and teachers,” by PC World.
This week (on March 24) Worldwide Telescope got a boost with the news that NASA and Microsoft are developing technology that will make content including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon explorable on WorldWide Telescope,
WorldWide Telescope has been nominated for two awards since its release – an American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) award and the Edison Award. The Edison Awards “symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison,” recognizing ingenuity, innovation, and creativity in the global economy.
Curtis Wong, and Jonathan Fay, from Microsoft Research drove the creation of Worldwide Telescope, and continue to enrich the telescope’s visuals and add features.
WorldWide Telescope provides a neat segway from inner space to outer space. With Virgin already booking flights for a real space trip, the world is moving ‘up and beyond’.
How long do you think it will be before you and I can take a trip to Space as if we were taking a trip to another country?