World Wide Telescope from Microsoft Research
Okay, so you know all about World Wide Web (WWW) or else you won’t be reading my blog but have you heard about World Wide Telescope (WWT) from Microsoft Research? Microsoft defines WWT as “a environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world for a seamless exploration of the universe.”
WWT is a single Web-based program that connects to data residing on multiple servers across the Internet and presents it in a seamless, interactive way. There are lots of things you can do in this application. To get started you might want to take advantage of one of the many guided tours. While you are in the tour you can pause the tour and come back later to rejoin where you left off.
Microsoft is providing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities. Click here to access the WWT homepage then click on the Download icon in the upper right hand corner, or you can click on the Experience It link to get to the Download link. If you are into astronomy, you’ll absolutely love WWT.
2. Once the application is installed you can access it in Windows Vista under All Programs, Microsoft Research.
3. Use the mouse to navigate around the galaxy by clicking and dragging. For example, if you view earth, you can click and drag to spin the earth until you get where you want then use your wheel mouse to quickly zoom in or zoom out.
4. If you are an advanced user and want to select one of the many telescopes, you must download and install the 5MB ASCOM platform and a telescope driver to control your telescope. The ASCOM Initiative is a loosely-knit group of astronomy software developers and astronomy device manufacturers devoted to vendor-independent plug-and-play control.
NOTE: I noticed that on my Internet Explorer page the page freezes after 99% content is loaded. I have to hit the refresh key (F5) to get it to 100% and access the Web site. The application is pretty buggy and don’t be surprised if WWT application crashes and you can’t get out of it. In that case run Task Manager (CTRL-SHIFT-ESC) and on the Processes tab kill the process WWTExplorer.