Microsoft WorldWide Telescope finally launching!

What do you get when you combine imagery from a large portion of the best telescopes on the ground and in space with tremendous amount of raw computing power and a significant amount of ingenuity? The Microsoft WorldWide Telescope, that is what. It basically merges all the said images into a seamless application that lets you play around in the night sky. Think of it as Google Earth or Google Maps, only looking up, not down. It is too early to tell how this will impact astronomy and education, but hopefully it will be something that increases the interest among children and grown ups alike. For a brief presentation held by Roy Gould and Curtis Wong at TED (the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference), go to the TED site. Note that the default video there is in low YouTubeish resolution. If you have the bandwidth, I urge you to instead download the high resolution version.

Microsoft WorldWide Telescope

The actual application will be available “free of charge to the astronomy and education communities”, whatever that means for you and me. Hopefully it’s equally free of charge for interested bystanders. Expected sometime this spring at Microsoft WorldWide Telescope.