Microsoft's Free Astronomy Software

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Even if you’re not really “in to” Astronomy, you really have to check this out. The things you will see are just amazing. Go ahead… I dare you. Open your eyes, broaden your horizons. You never know what’s out there waiting.

Check out the free World Wide Telescope by Microsoft. The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world for a seamless exploration of the universe.

WorldWide Telescope is created with the Microsoft high performance Visual Experience Engine and allows seamless panning and zooming around the night sky, planets, and image environments. View the sky from multiple wavelengths: See the x-ray view of the sky and zoom into bright radiation clouds, and then crossfade into the visible light view and discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from a thousand years ago. Switch to the Hydrogen Alpha view to see the distribution and illumination of massive primordial hydrogen cloud structures lit up by the high energy radiation coming from nearby stars in the Milky Way. These are just two of many different ways to reveal the hidden structures in the universe with the WorldWide Telescope. Seamlessly pan and zoom from aerial views of the Moon and selected planets, as well as see their precise positions in the sky from any location on Earth and any time in the past or future with the Microsoft Visual Experience Engine.

I also have another neat program to tell you about. I received an email from Erick, just after finishing the recording for this video. He wanted us to check out Stellarium. This is also a free program, which does virtually the same thing as Microsoft’s World Wide Telescope. With Stellarium, you can also choose “night mode”. The best part of Stellarium is that it works on ALL platforms, including Linux.

Let me know what other free and unique or fun software you know of, that others of us haven’t heard of yet. I’m always willing to check out something different and new… and pass along the cool stuff to everyone else.


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