World Wide Telescope – ready for launch to a desktop near you.

I’ve just downloaded World Wide Telescope, Microsoft’s latest offering to the world. It’s free and here’s why(according to their What is World Wide Telescope page);

Microsoft Research is dedicating WorldWide Telescope to the memory of Jim Gray and is releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe like never before. 

That’s very nice of Microsoft, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s not a response to the open source revolution that is taking place. Regardless, it looks like an amazing tool that is going to be a truly wonderful resource for Science teachers and anyone with an interest in checking out the universe.

I’ma bit of a night sky lover. A few years ago a friend and I spent some nights getting up at 2am and drove to a sports field so that we could check out meteor showers that were visible. We saw some incredible meteors; the most spectaculor one blazed across the sky and was a true aha moment. It sounds cliche, but losing yourself in the night sky does make you question our purpose here – why is it that we push ourselves so hard and get caught up in the minutiae of life?

Enough philosophising! I lost myself in World Wide Telescope for 45 mins and didn’t notice time passing. Still don’t know how to navigate it properly. Best remedy for this is to introduce it to a class and let them work it out for me! Or alternately, take this advice from Microsoft;

Click the top of the Guided Tours tab and then click the Welcome thumbnail to watch a guided tour showing you how to navigate in WWT.

It’s a big file to download (20MB) but it’s pretty impressive. Give it a try.

 

World Wide Telescope – Science teachers take note

This is from TED talks and has just been posted. It’s the first view of the World Wide telescope, a product of Microsoft, that is going to be available as a free download at the website worldwidetelescope.org in the Northern Spring of this year. Very interesting that Microsoft is offering it as a free download – this is why according to their FAQ page;

“Microsoft Research is dedicating WorldWide Telescope to the memory of Jim Gray and is releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities with the hope that it will inspire and empower people to explore and understand the universe as never before.”

Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard Centre for Astrophysics, thinks it’s truly transformative, enabling you to experience and tour the universe. You can create your own tours of the universe and share them with friends and they’re interactive- imagine all the possibilities this presents for classrooms and learning about astronomy – why wasn’t this around when I was a kid? I may have been an astronomer now if it had have been. I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky – I love to lose myself in it and contemplate my place in the world. This is going to be wonderful and I can’t wait to play and share it with my kids. Thanks to Jeff Utecht for the heads up to this from a Twitter post.