Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Explore the Universe With The World Wide Telescope

I wanted to revisit the World Wide Telescope by Microsoft because it is such an amazing resource. I wrote a blog about the WWT when it first came out back on May 23rd of 2008. The high resolution images are captured from the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-Ray Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope and other image capturing devices using different wavelengths such as the visual spectrum we see, infrared, x-ray and others. The combined images allow you to use your computer as a virtual telescope and in essence a web browser for the universe. Once opened, you can click on any of the collections along the top. The choices available are constellations, our solar system, Hubble, Chandra or Spitzer images and other collections. There is a drop down in the lower left area for viewing images of Earth, the planets, the sky or panoramas. Another drop down to the right of that are choices within your selection. So for example if you choose Earth from the left drop down, you can choose Earth at night, Earth aerial or other options.
Once you’ve made your selection, you can zoom in or out by scrolling the mouse wheel, press and hold the left mouse button to drag your field of view or right click an object to see information about it.
Several menus are along the top. Click on “Guided Tours” to choose from 16 folders. Each folder includes several video tours of nebulas, galaxies, planets, black holes, supernovas, star clusters and other interesting objects in the space around us. These videos are very enjoyable. Click on “Community” to access and join up to three different star gazing and space exploration communities.
Another incredible option is the ability to connect and control your telescope from the WWT program. You can either download the WWT program on your home computer or run the web client http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/help/SupportHelp.aspx. Both are free and well worth the time spent exploring the universe. Microsoft also has a program called WWT Mars.
I would like to continue telling you about this wonderful resource but I feel the need to explore. So sit back, buckle up, warp into space and enjoy the ride as you explore the universe from the comfort of your computer. Star Trek uniforms are optional. Live long and warp speed.

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