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Google Earth tackles the universe (photos)

Thanks to a partnership with Slooh, Google Earth will now feature a new layer of high-res images of deep space taken by users.

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Daniel Terdiman
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
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Mission interface

On Friday, Google announced it is partnering with Slooh, a service popular with astronomy buffs that lets its users view live events through its global network of observatories, and take photographs of what they see.

The Internet giant will integrate data from Slooh into its Google Sky service, meaning that any user of that system will be able to see member-taken photographs of deep space, as well as watch live events, such as eclipses.

This is an image of Slooh's mission interface, showing what users would see while viewing a live event from one of the company's observatory telescopes.

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Google Earth

In this image, we see the Slooh layer in Google Sky. Each of the little orange Slooh logos on the celestial map indicates the location of a user-taken photograph of a deep-space object.
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Trifid

A close-up of the Slooh layer of Google Sky, showing that a user-taken photograph of the Trifid Nebula exists alongside similar imagery already in the database. But while the existing image comes from large sky surveys or from the Hubble Telescope, they are not real-time. The Slooh images, however, are added to Google Sky seconds after a user takes them.
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Google Earth bubble

This is what Google Sky users will see when they click on a user-taken photograph: A window identifying what they are looking at, as well as a list of all the available images.
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Free tier

This is the Slooh free-tier launchpad interface. Anyone can use Slooh for free, and can take photographs of missions--but free users can only access the first four images they take.
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Whirlpool

A Slooh user-taken image of the Whirlpool galaxy.
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Launchpad countdown

This is the interface for a mission countdown. Seen here, the countdown clock shows how long it will be until the beginning of the next mission at Slooh's Canary Islands observatory, a live viewing of the Helix Nebula. In this image, there are 26 minutes and 57 seconds until the mission begins. Until then, viewers will see only the night sky through the roof of the observatory.
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Great Hercules Cluster

A Slooh user-taken image of the Great Hercules Cluster.
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Hartley Comet

A Slooh user-taken image of the Hartley Comet.
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Launchpad commander

A look at the Slooh members-only mission launchpad interface. The interface shows what's visible through one of Slooh's observatory telescopes, as well as a list of upcoming missions, and the user's collected photographs.
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My Pics

This interface shows a user's photographs.

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