The WORLDWIDE

TELESCOPE is a computer program created by

Microsoft which allows its users to view outer space. It was announced at the TED Conference in Monterey in February, 2008. Users are able to pan around outer space and zoom as far into any one area as the data will allow. Images are taken from the Hubble Space Telescope and approximately ten earth-bound telescopes. It is possible to view the sky in many wavelengths of light. The software utilizes Microsoft's Visual Experience Engine technologies to function.

Reception
Dr. Roy Gould of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said: “The Worldwide Telescope takes the best images from the greatest telescopes on Earth ... and in space ... and assembles them into a seamless, holistic view of the universe. This new resource will change the way we do astronomy ... the way we teach astronomy ... and, most importantly, I think it's going to change the way we see ourselves in the universe,”...“The creators of the Worldwide Telescope have now given us a way to have a dialogue with our universe.” Michael Arrington from TechCrunch reports "Worldwide Telescope will be significantly better than Google Sky"

Modes
Worldwide Telescope has four categories of objects to look at. These are Sky, Earth, Planets, and Panoramas

.

Sky
Sky mode is the main feature of the software. It allows users to view high quality images of outer space with images from the dozens of space and Earth bound telescopes. Each image is placed in the exact same position that it would be expected to be found in the sky. There are over 50 full sky images in bands ranging from Radio to Gamma. There are also thousands of individual study images of various astronomical objects from space telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, COBE, WMAP, ROSAT, IRAS, GALEX as well as many other space and ground based telescopes.

Earth
Earth mode allows users to view a 3D model of the Earth, similar to NASA World Wind, Microsoft Virtual Earth and Google Earth. It is not powered by Virtual Earth, but it does use its satellite and map images. It also uses two other free images from NASA. They are Aerial, Hybrid, Streets, NASA Blue Marble and Earth at Night. NASA Blue Marble and Earth at Night are both a view of the Earth with a resolution to 100,000 feet above sea level.

Planets
Planets mode currently allows users to view 3D models of eight celestial bodies: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, four of Jupiter's larger moons, and our own planet's Moon. It also allows users to view a Mandelbrot set.

Panoramas
The Panorama mode allows users to view panoramas such as several Mars Rover panoramas include as well as other giga pixel panoramas such as the ones available for HDView.

Local User Content
Any of the viewing modes allow the user to browse and load equerectangular images to be viewed as planet surfaces, sky images or panoramas. Images with AVM or Astronomy Visualization Mata data can be loaded and registered to their location in the sky. Images without AVM can be loaded but they user must align

the images in the sky by moving, scaling and rotating the images until star patterns align. Once the images are aligned they can be saved to collections for later viewing and sharing.

Solar System
The major solar system objects from the Sun to Pluto, and Jupiter's moons are all positioned with their correct scale, position and phase (in the case of the Earth's moon). The user can move forward and backward in time at various rates, or type in a time and date to view the position of the planets. Combined with the ability to select the users viewing location, the program can give the user a view of the sky the way it would look from any place on earth from 1AD to 4000AD. Using that tool a user can watch an eclipse, occultation, or astronomical alignment and preview where the best spot might be to observe it.

Use for Amateur Astronomy
The program allows for the selection of a telescope and camera and can preview the field of view against the sky. Using ASCOM the user can connect a computer controlled scope, or an astronomical pointing device such as Meade's My Sky, and then either control or follow the scope or pointing device. The large selection of catalog objects and 1 arc second per pixel imagery allow an astrophotographer to select and plan a photograph and even find a suitable guide star using the multi-chip FOV indicator.

Tours
Worldwide Telescope contains a multimedia authoring environment that allows users or educators to create tours with a simple slide based paradigm. The slides can have a begin and end camera position allowing for easy Ken Burns style camera moves. Pictures, objects and text can be added to the slides, and tours can have both background music and voice-overs with separate volume control. One of the tours featured was made by a six year old boy, while other tours are

made by famous astrophysicist such as Dr. Alyssa Goodman of the Harvard/Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Dr. Robert Hurt of Caltech/JPL.

Communities
Communities are a way of allowing organizations and communities to add their own images, tours, catalogs and research materials to the Worldwide Telescope interface. The concept is similar to subscribing to a RSS feed except the contents are astronomical metadata.

Virtual Observatory
The Worldwide Telescope was designed to be the embodiment of a rich Virtual Observatory Client envisioned by Turing Award winner Jim Gray (computer scientist) and JHU Astrophysicist and Co-Principal Investigator for the US National Virtual Observatory, Alex Szalay in their paper titled "The Worldwide Telescope". The Worldwide Telescope program makes use of IVOA standards for interoperating with data providers to provide its image, search and catalog data. Rather than concentrate all data into one database, the Worldwide Telescope sources its data from all over the web and can available content grows are more VO compliant data sources are placed on the web.

Worldwide Telescope viewing a Hubble image of the Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). Design by Developed by Curtis Wong, Jonathan Fay Microsoft Research, Microsoft Corporation February 27, 2008 Spring Beta (2.1.6.1) / May 12, 2008; 7 days ago C#/.NET Microsoft Windows English Beta

Initial release Preview release

Written in OS Available in Development status License Website

Freeware www.worldwidetelescope.org

References

COBE  Cosmic Background Explorer WMAP  Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (NASA)

What does ROSAT stand for? Roentgen Satellite

IRAS  Infrared Astronomical Satellite IRAS Infrared Astronomy Satellite

What does GALEX stand for? Galaxy Evolution Explorer (NASA)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA

Panorama===Surrounding Continuous view