Most everyone has looked up at the heavens on a clear night and wondered what in the world is all up there. Most of you may not be aware of it, but the answers to some of those questions became a lot easier to answer since last summer. That is when Microsoft, in cooperation with NASA and several leading observatories, planetariums, and universities unveiled their WorldWide Telescope. The vast reaches of the universe are now accessible to everyone. “Beam me up, Scotty!”
So what is this WorldWide Telescope? According to their website it is a visualization software environment that will convert your computer into a “virtual telescope.” By obtaining imagery from some of the best ground-based and space-based telescopes in the world, it allows the user to experience what they refer to as a “seamless exploration of the universe.” But as you would expect from Bill Gates, there is even more.
The WorldWide Telescope offers a rich array of experiences to the user. You can explore the universe with the click of a mouse. You can tour, explore, and discover stars, planets, constellations, and even visit the dark regions of distant galaxies. The imagery is phenomenal.
If you are interested in tours you can choose from an increasing array of options. For example, you can take a narrated tour of the universe, a guided tour of the Orion Nebula, or perhaps a tour of the earth at night which I found absolutely riveting.
You can visit their website and download the software on the worldwide web at www.worldwidetelescope.org. The address is also in the script of this Natural North Dakota available at prairiepublic.org.
The WorldWide Telescope mission includes this statement: “To re-awaken the interest for science in the younger generations through astronomy and new technologies through the virtual observatory of the WorldWide Telescope.” I think many of you older kids will also find your astronomical interest awakened too.
Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.
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