|Tour space, watch stars from the comfort of the livingroom|
SNAPSHOTS: Screen captures show the capabilities of the new software. At upper left is a wide view of the winter constellations, with Orion the hunter in the centre, while at upper right, a zoom into Orions’ belt reveals the catalogue names of individual stars. At lower left is a Hubble Space Telescope photo of Orion that viewers get by zooming in, and at lower right users get a detailed description of the Orion Nebula by clicking on the photo.
London: Thanks to the popularity and reach of the Internet, Google has become one of the most powerful companies in the world. But now the California web giant is casting its net across the rest of the universe as well.
It announced on Wednesday a service which will allow computer users to tour space and watch the stars from the comfort of their living rooms. Google Sky, developed in partnership with some of the world’s leading space observatories, lets surfers gaze at a virtual sky and tour around the cosmos at will.
The service is being provided as an add-on to Google Earth, the popular virtual geography program which lets users access a computerised three-dimensional map of the planet. Surfers who download the new Sky application will be able to look to the heavens from any point on earth.
The service also allows them to zoom through more than 200 million galaxies and take a detailed tour around 100 million individual solar systems.
“You can flip up and see the constellations and search for stars, galaxies, nebulae and fly through space inside Google Earth,” said a Google spokesman. “There have been a lot of interesting space events recently, such as the Perseid meteor showers, and with lots of kids going back to school we hope this can be really useful in the classroom too.”
One function will overlay maps and charts onto the night sky, describing famous constellations such as Orion, Andromeda and Cassiopeia.
Sky was developed by a team of Google engineers based in the U.S., who worked in concert with a number of scientific groups including the U.K. Astronomy Technology Centre and the Anglo-Australian Observatory in New South Wales. — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2007
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