Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google Earth Does It Again

Every once in a while I find myself moved to wax eloquent about some new feature of or use for Google Earth.

Well, they've done it again. If you download the newest version of Google Earth, you can now see the night sky above your location.

I played around with it last night and I must say that this new feature certainly enhances the time wasting allure of GE. The basic view when I started it up was dark and blurry. Not at all impressive compared to some of my other online and offline astro software. I don't think I'll be using GE to find my way around the night sky...

BUT when I zeroed in on a patch of sky and started to zoom in by rolling my mouse wheel, well .... my mind was boggled. Pick something like the Andromeda galaxy (you can probably do a search if you don't know where it is) and slowly zoom in. It pretty seamlessly goes from a naked eye view to a Hubble Space Telescope quality view.

The "coat hanger" wasn't that impressive, but just about everything else I looked at was very very interesting. The "double double" in Lyra wasn't resolved, but the nearby ring nebula was great. There are bazillions of interesting objects labeled and worth investigating. Besides the great images, there are also links to pretty good text descriptions of the objects.

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