World Wide Telescope?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. — Abraham Lincoln

TechCrunch may have the scoop on what made Robert Scoble cry:

A source close to Microsoft says the company will launch new desktop software called WorldWide Telescope (pdf) on February 27 at the TED Conference in Monterey, California.

The service will be accessed through a downloadable application – Windows only for now is what we hear. Users will be able to pan around the nighttime sky and zoom as far in to any one area as the data will allow.

Dan Farber posted his own educated guess that the project might be WorldWide Telescope, based on the fact that Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay were involved, and he’s right. Last year Fay gave a presentation called “”The WorldWide Telescope, bringing the Universe to a PC near you.

From what we hear, WorldWide Telescope will be significantly better than Google Sky, which launched last August as part of Google Earth, and the open source Stellarium (which is hugely better than Google Sky already).

The key is the user interface, which is seamless as you move around the sky and zoom in and out. Much of the Photosynth technology is said to have been used for the project.

Look for an announcement at TED, and more at Microsoft’s upcoming TechFest in early March.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is the most ambitious astronomical survey ever undertaken. When completed, it will provide detailed optical images covering more than a quarter of the sky, and a 3-dimensional map of about a million galaxies and quasars.

Several multi-wavelength projects are under way: SDSS, GALEX, 2MASS, GSC-2, POSS2, ROSAT, FIRST and DENIS. Each is surveying a large fraction of the sky. Together they will yield a Digital Sky, of interoperating multiterabyte databases.

Maybe they’ll zoom in on our newly discovered planetary neighbors.

Astronomers have discovered that terrestrial planets might form around many, if not most, of the nearby sun-like stars in our galaxy, said NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope website. Our own Milky Way galaxy is home to billions more planets than currently believed, greatly increasing the prospects of finding at least primitive forms of life, says Michael Meyer of the University of Arizona. He found that at least 20 percent and possibly up to 60 percent of stars similar to the Sun could potentially have rocky planets in orbit around them, like Earth and Mars.

The ALMA Telescope Will Open New Window On The Universe, says Science Daily. “Most of the photons in the Universe are in the wavelength range that ALMA will receive, and ALMA will give us our first high-resolution views at these wavelengths,” said Anneila Sargent, a Caltech professor and ALMA Board member, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science at its meeting in Boston, Mass.

How would you pursue your bliss across the Universe? I like the voice-driven model — with 3-4, heuristic-driven choices. Results stored on your biochip.

Maybe it could compliment E.O. Wilson’s Encylopedia of Life (video).

Virtual Earth Blog has demos of related technology. Related DailyWireless articles include; Street View & Photosynth Head Home, The Infinite Zoom, Dawn of the Space Age, Google Sky, Microsoft TechFest, Large Millimeter Telescope, The Very Very Large Array, Virtual Earth Adds Cities, and Microsoft’s 3D Photo Flyby.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, February 18th, 2008 at 5:13 pm .

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