Microsoft Research launches WorldWide Telescope, Scoble cries
Microsoft Research has just launched WorldWide Telescope, turning your computer into a virtual telescope.
WorldWide Telescope is a desktop application for Windows which does exactly what you would think. It essentially turns your computer into a telescope. You can choose from a variety of options from roaming the universe freely, to guided tours of various celestial features. You can join communities of stargazers and also connect your own telescope to your computer and control it with this application. Another option is to change your source of imagery to gain a different perspective.
This application really shines in the guided tours which let you sit back and observe while the application zooms and pans around the stars with someone narrating in the background. The narrators range from an 8 year old boy talking about The Ring Nebula to a Harvard astrophysicist talking about dust.
WorldWide Telescope is an extremely feature packed and complex application. The complexity of this application might turn some off because it certainly seems to be overwhelming at first. I'm glad that Microsoft decided to keep this wealth of features and options in the application, despite the potential usability problems. Having so many different controls really gives people the ability to delve deeper into specific areas of interest.
The imagery in WorldWide Telescope is absolutely breathtaking and it's a truly unique feeling to fly around in space and take a look at what's around us. I have only scratched the surface of what this application is capable of and I'm already impressed. There is a whole lot to see here and the volume and quality of content and guided tours will only improve as time goes on.