For the sake of completeness, as much as anything, I thought I’d just complement the Our World in 3D… post with a brief reference list of interactive online media and desktop applications that you can use to explore the night sky, and the objects contained within it.
There are several applications around that let you observe the night sky as if you were on earth, as well as letting you explore it in a 3D navigational way…
- Worldwide Telescope (Microsoft):
- NASA Worldwind:
- Google maps for other worlds: Google Moon, Google Mars and Google sky (a map of the night sky); there is also Sky in Google Earth:
- Star viewer: a mashup based on Google Sky, that provides an interactive map of the night sky that includes embedded images and videos that offer a useful extra level of detail, or commentary, about celestial objects we can see from Earth.
- Wikisky: similar to Star Viewer, but more comprehensive.
Visit one or two of the online applications, or download one of the desktop applications. To what extent do you think that the power of interactivity brings the idea of the scale of the universe home, compared to descriptions one might find in a book, for example?
[The videos referred to in this post are available in the compilation Splashcast video show “Our Heavens in 3D” on the Digital Worlds Splashcast video channel.]