One of the most impressive pieces of software available today, really democratizing the ability to study astrology, our solar system, and other space oriented objects that have been observed and captured by some of our most famous telescopes (including the Hubble, the Chandra, and the Spitzer), the World Wide Telescope provides you with access to terabytes of imagery captured by these amazing pieces of technology.
Providing for truly seamless panning and zooming all over our night sky, and also providing ridiculously high definition imagery in regards to some of the most famous celestial bodies (including the moon, all of our constellation, a number of comets and asteroids, etc.), taking full advantage of everything that the WorldWide Telescope software has to offer can open up the heavens in a way that just wasn’t possible previously.
Educators and students alike are also going to have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this software to check out three-dimensional models of some of the most important celestial bodies in our solar system and our galaxy. This imagery is in-depth, in high definition, and can be manipulated in a variety of different ways to provide an educational experience quite unlike anything else short of actually looking through the Hubble telescope (for example) yourself.
At the same time, getting the hang of using the WorldWide Telescope software can be a bit of a challenge. This is not exactly the most user-friendly of all the astronomy software options out there today, the once you got the hang of all its features, its unique settings, and how to make the most of the leverage and the power that it provides you, you’ll be able to really hit the ground running and study the sky and the stars ways you never would have expected to have been able to before!
Let’s dive right in!
Getting your hands on the WorldWide Telescope software
Created in 2005 by Curtis Wong from Microsoft Research and Alyssa Goodman from Harvard University and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysicists, the WorldWide Telescope software is available 100% free of charge and can be downloaded as a Windows application or used completely online through the WorldWide Telescope web client if you don’t feel like downloading and installing the resources on your computer directly.
Firing the platform up for the first time
Right out of the gate, you are going to want to familiarize yourself with the WorldWide Telescope user interface, learning how to use the “finder scope”, the many different menu tabs, and the preloaded content that you can use to search for pretty much any object of your interest.
Constellations, the solar system, celestial bodies, and other universal elements can all be viewed directly through the WorldWide Telescope platform individually if you’d like to explore all on your own, but you’ll also have the opportunity to take “guided tours” of the galaxy around us by investigating the options under the TOURS menu prompts.
If you haven’t used this software before, taking one of these guided tours is going to probably be the perfect way to get started. You’ll be able to learn a lot about space around us (from some very smart individuals and organizations) during this guided tour, but you’ll also be shown different features, different commands, and different user interface elements you can utilize later when it comes time to explore all on your own as well.
Dive into the 3-D features
Don’t forget about the amazing 3-D features that we highlighted above.
A considerable amount of resources went into producing these 3-D tours, these 3-D models, and these 3-D “celestial destinations”, providing you detailed information about how our solar system works together, how the seasons and moon phases play off of one another, detailed information about distances to constellations and the background behind these clusters of stars, and so much more.
These three-dimensional features are going to provide you with a unique telescope experience that would have been impossible to pull off even if you were looking through some of the famous telescopes we mentioned above. These models are rendered so that you have in an omnipotent viewpoint, giving you complete and total control over the elements and aspects that you are looking into or paying attention to while having the ability to pan, zoom, and highlight different details that you want to learn more about.
YouTube is your best friend when learning how to use WorldWide Telescope
At the end of the day, really learning how to master everything that WorldWide Telescope brings to the table is going to involve tinkering around with the software, guiding yourself along your own tours, but still taking advantage of all the resources that are built right into this platform.
But if you really want to jumpstart your success, dive into any of the great YouTube tutorials (some of which are posted on the Harvard University website) so that you can watch and learn how to really make the most of everything that the WorldWide Telescope software offers.