World Wide Telescope

V838 MonocerotisAbout a dozen years ago, I had a great idea – a multi-million dollar idea. I would sell telescope time over the web.  I would essentially arrange with major observatories to share their observations in real time, with the public.  I’d also have a few near-world-class observatories in the system that would be dedicated to subscribers, who would, for a (small) fee, get time in small increments during which the telescope would be theirs to control.  A relatively small network of ‘scopes would be adequate to guarantee that clear skies could be had, and the number of scopes would grow to match the subscriber list.

What could be better for a small army of amateur astronomers than access to, say, a telescope with a primary that’s measured in meters, rather than inches?

Needless to say, I didn’t act quick enough, and I still toil in the trenches of the labor force instead of enjoying the fruits of a successful entrepreneurial life.

But the idea lives, and this spring, Microsoft is introducing the World Wide Telescope. Patterned after Google Earth, the software will provide access to images from major observatories and satellites to provide essentially complete access to the entire sky.  It is touted to be an improvement over Google Sky, in that the coverage provides seamless views.

And that’s not unimportant.

Large telescopes (and professional astronomers, for that matter) have always focused tightly on relatively small objects, and studied them intensely.  This is different.  Hundreds and thousands of “amateurs” see the bigger picture, and how separate (and mostly, but not always adjacent) objects are related.

Roy Gould and Microsoft’s Curtis Wong demo the software for us here.

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2 Comments on “World Wide Telescope”

  1. Paul Says:

    Wow. First Google, then the Encyclopedia of Life, now this. Soon there will be no reason to leave the confines of my desk and actually interact with people.

    I remain unconvinced that this is a good thing for humanity.

    BBD

  2. joebuckley Says:

    Must…Not…QUIP!

    But – but – everyone else thinks it would be good!

    SORRY!! JOKE!! Don’t hit! DON’T HIT!!!

    ;>


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