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Microsoft Uncovers WorldWide Telescope

  • BBC News, Tuesday, May 13, 2008 12:16 PM
Microsoft has now released, in beta form, its long-awaited WorldWide Telescope, a free tool that pieces together some of the world's best ground telescope and satellite images, using data and imagery from NASA's Hubble and Spitzer telescopes and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, among others. The tool allows users to pan and zoom around the planets and view anything from distant galaxies to exploding stars. It also features guided tours from some of the world's top astronomers.

Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, puts it more eloquently: "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," he said. "(It's) a beautiful platform for explaining and getting people excited about astronomy, and I think the professional astronomers will come to use it as well." Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman, described WorldWide Telescope as a "powerful tool for education," that he hopes will "inspire young people to explore astronomy and science."

Sorry Mac users, but to use WorldWide Telescope, you need to download a Windows-only application from the Web.

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