Microsoft Research has begin private alpha testing for its WorldWide Telescope (WWTelescope), a free software allowing users to seamlessly pan and zoom themselves through galaxies and stars.
The WWTelescope project was announced last year and based on a paper by Jim Gray, the Microsoft Researcher who sailed out of San Francisco Bay about a year ago never to be heard from again. Terabytes of image storage from various telescopes can be accessed by the free client software downloaded to a PC.
Imagine having Google Maps or Live Maps, panning around high-res images of buildings and roads. Now imagine doing the same through galaxies and stars. Drag around the canvas of the stars until you find a galaxy or star that interests you, then zoom until you can see every detail.
Roger Scoble cried was excited about it, to say the least. “But it has one difference between any telescope you’ve ever looked at.” said Scoble. “You can zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. We picked a point of light inside the big dipper. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Holy shit, it’s two galaxies colliding. It looked like a star. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.” With the push of a button, Scoble was then looking at what seemed to be an infrared image of the two galaxies competing for space.
The integration of images is said to be using some of the Photosynth technology.
According to the official website http://wwtelescope.com/, it should be released in the Spring of 2008. Google Sky was released in August of last year, but WWTelescope is supposed to be significantly better. We shall see.