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Microsoft Launches WorldWide Telescope 167

Posted by kdawson
from the godspeed-jim-gray dept.
esocid writes "WorldWide Telescope, developed by Microsoft's research arm, knits together images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and others. Windows users (only) can browse through the galaxy on their own or take guided tours of different outer-space destinations developed by astronomers and academics. The application allows viewing from different wavelengths such as X-ray, visible light, and hydrogen-alpha radiation. Business Week has a review and some background on the project, which has been in development for years. Google Sky beat them to the punch but Business Week opines that WWT's interface is superior."
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Microsoft Launches WorldWide Telescope

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  • Web 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thyamine (531612) <thyamineNO@SPAMofdragons.com> on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:37PM (#23394684) Homepage Journal
    The description says it's a "Web 2.0 visualization software environment". Shouldn't that be running in a web browser then? What's with having to download and install the application itself? Being on my Mac, I can't (probably wouldn't anyway) try it out to see what happens, but that description seems a bit misleading.
  • "Better" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:41PM (#23394766) Homepage
    (not having read the article)

    "WWT's interface is better"... but only on windows... So for the schools, third-world countries, etc. we've read about who are adopting Linux... Microsoft assumes they don't exist?
  • by E-Lad (1262) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:54PM (#23394928) Homepage
    I never would have expected it, especially in a MS product, but the folks who put the WWT app together also blessed it with ASCOM [ascom-standards.org] capabilities, so one may use the WWT app to drive a computerized telescope mount (aka, a "goto mount").

    While there are [bisque.com] other [starrynightstore.com] ASCOM-enabled apps that astronomers have been using for years to point their optics (and manage dome robotics, and focusers, and cameras), I have to say that the basic mount control in WWT is a pretty cool tip of the hat towards to astronomy community in practical terms.
  • Re:Web 2.0? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dancindan84 (1056246) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @03:57PM (#23394986)
    Welcome to the misuse of buzzwords. Every time someone uses "Web portal", "Web 2.0", "Enterprise", "Synergy" without knowing the meaning an angels wings fall off, killing a kitten. A buzzword get picked up by the media, which then drives PR to use it as often as possible to describe their product whether it fits or not, which is then reported on by the media and the vicious cycle continues until the next buzzword hits.

    Most people would consider google sky a "Web 2.0" app. It's an interactive web based application that seamlessly runs in your browser. WWT is much more similar to google earth. It requires downloading a separate application that runs autonomously from your browser and just happens to use the net for data.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:03PM (#23395062) Journal
    You probably have a setup.exe for your printer drivers in either %WINDIR% or %TEMP% (or elsewhere in the path, but the Windows directory is sometimes incorrectly used as a temp directory because apps blindly extract to "current directory" which may end up being that one, and otherwise, the temp dir use to be used)

    I've had this happen before myself, and don't really know why it happens, but believe that for some reason it can't overwrite the setup.exe it tries to replace, or the installer extracting to its temporary directory is even stupid enough to not *try* to overwrite an existing setup.exe. *shrug*
  • Re:Good to see (Score:3, Insightful)

    by idiotwithastick (1036612) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:03PM (#23395064)
    It ain't free if you have to buy a computer to use it. It ain't free if you have to pay for internet service to use it. It ain't free if you have to buy food to get the energy to walk to the library to use it.
  • by loudmax (243935) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:05PM (#23395082) Homepage
    Since this product isn't available for my operating system, I can't check it our for myself, but I do hope it encourages interest in astronomy. There are valid reasons to bash Microsoft (the OOXML debacle [noooxml.org], for example). Putting out a free-as-in-beer science project for their customers only isn't one of them. If some of Microsoft's customers get to learn more about the sky, that's a good thing. I hope they enjoy it.
  • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:42PM (#23395542)
    Yeah, it runs on 90% (hell, I'll be generous to you, 80%) of PCs out there. That's soooooooooo useless.
  • by Liquidrage (640463) on Tuesday May 13, 2008 @04:47PM (#23395636)
    I don't really know if it's actually overstated at this point. I would be surprised if a lot of astronomers didn't push their data to it. That's one of the nice features of the software. Look, the twin kecks aren't controlled by Starry Night. But this can totally replace starry night for me it looks like, and as a repository I would absoltely love to have access to real time data and images from *professionals*.
  • Re:M$ again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notaprguy (906128) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @12:57AM (#23399300) Journal
    Ummm.... I take it that you didn't bother to actually try out Worldwide Telecope. Because if you did, you wouldn't even begin to compare it to Stellarium. Stellarium is sort of neat but offers about 1/100000000th of what WWT has. It's not even fair to compare them. But at least look at WWT before you post this kind of nonsense. Others, you can download Stellarium from here: http://www.stellarium.org/ [stellarium.org]. It's kinda neat but...
  • Re:BBC review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notaprguy (906128) * on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:07AM (#23399344) Journal
    Celestia and Stellarium are very nice but pale in comparison to WWT. Just try them out side by side. Seriously, it's easy (yes, you have to have Windows...). Celstia is at http://www.shatters.net/celestia/download.html [shatters.net] and Stellarium is at http://www.stellarium.org/ [stellarium.org]. Neither offers to rich visualizations, amazing high resolution images, easy navigation, great "guided tours," community features, ability to easily create your own tours and many other things. You're talking apples and oranges. I have used Celestia and Stellarium before and they're cool but this is in a totally different league. I find it very hard to believe that you actually tried WWT. Did you?
  • Re:M$ again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by batkiwi (137781) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @01:34AM (#23399454)
    Stellarium : WWTelescope :: lynx : firefox

    Yes they both technically do the same "thing". But unlike firefox vs IE (where you can argue that not only is the open source solution "as good," but that it's actually BETTER) stellarium is not in the same realm as WWTelescope.
  • Re:Web 2.0? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Wednesday May 14, 2008 @02:59AM (#23399820)
    .NET and Silverlight are not an attempt to make a better javascript, they're an attempt to tie the web so intimately to Windows that it becomes a requirement, just like IE before them.

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