webDotWiz talks Windows Live

A daily list of links to interesting sites

webDotWiz Online column – April 1 2010 – Hey, look at this – the WWT Bing Maps app

Look up and see the stars

Bing Maps has a new application, the WorldWide Telescope, that enables us to look up at the sky at any time of day or night.

To get started, you’ll need to go to www.bing.com/maps/explore. Before you do this, though, check that you’ve got the United State – English locale set. To do this, go to Bing Search at www.bing.com and look up at the top right of the browser window. If the locale is set to another country, such as Australia, click the country that’s displayed to open a new page from which you can select the United States – English locale. Now you’ll be able to load Bing Maps Explore.

At bottom right of left-hand pane, choose MAP APPS

At the bottom of the left-hand pane, you’ll see Map Apps – click this to bring up a page of Bing Maps applications and choose WorldWide Telescope.

Choose WorldWide Telescope from all the available MAP APPS

Now you’re returned to your map and the left-hand pane enables you to control what you want to view in the sky.

Click Start to begin

Click the Start Here button to get things underway (notice the blue telescope icon denotes you’re using the Bing Maps WWT app).

Other ways to view the sky

After a few seconds, the bottom half of the left-hand pane gives you more options as to what you want to view: Constellations, Solar system, All-sky surveys, objects photographed by Hubble, contributions from astrophotographers, and more. These options will be familiar to those of you who have used the downloadable or web client version of WorldWide Telescope.

Click anwayhere on the map Blue telescope icon shows where you are on the map after clicking on a location

Now click a location on the map area (click the telescope icon on the location; you can pan around the map and zoom the map in and out before clicking) from which you want to view the sky or enter a location in the search box at the top of the browser window.

Left-hand pane changes to show you what you're viewing or what you can view

The left-hand pane changes to inform you what’s above you at this location and as well the large right-hand pane displays the position of objects in the sky above.

The sky view

In sky view, you’re able to zoom in and out and pan around the view. As you do, the information at the top of the left-hand pane will change correspondingly.

The current constellation is the yellow outline and the red lines in the view represent the main stars. The green line – when it appears – is the ecliptic, the apparent path of our sun against the background of the sky.

Left-hand pane tells you the part of the sky you're viewing

The sky view is dynamic, that is, it changes in real time, so don’t be surprised when you’ve zoomed in on a planet to see it move across your screen.

Viewing Venus (zoomed in)

At the bottom of the sky view pane, next to the date and time display, there’s a small icon with a question mark – clicking this enables you to move around the screen and place the round marker over an object to obtain information about the underlying object. Just be patient since the information can take a few seconds to download and be displayed.

Get information about objects in the sky

Whenever you select an object from those shown in the left-hand pane – note you might be able to scroll through a list of objects – there’s the option to Fly in to view the object in more detail. It’s a very handy feature and saves lots of zooming and panning. As well, just hovering your mouse over one of these objects will display a yellow circle to indicate its position in the current sky view (zoom out if you don’t see the yellow location circle).

Get information about objects in the sky including galaxies

The above is enough information for you to start exploring the sky above (whether it be at day or night) at your location or any location around the world. Now it’s possible for you to view objects in the sky as seen by those in the northern hemisphere. When you’re ready to learn more about the sky, download and install the desktop version of WorldWide Telescope from www.worldwidetelescope.org. Oh, and you’ll be able to do all the homework that Cass assigns at his observatory nights.

Tip: At the bottom left of the sky view is a box displaying year, date and time. These values are "live" so you can go back in time to when webDotWiz took his screenshots. Simply drag your mouse over the month and/or date value to view the sky on March 18 or March 21, 2010. Then drag the mouse over the time value to adjust the viewing time at the time webDotWiz snapped his screenshots. Naturally you can jump back and forward in time by years or even centuries if you want.

Look up at the stars and look around

For other sites that were listed in this week’s column, see www.webdotwiz.com/sites-010410.htm

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Follow webDotWiz on Twitter at twitter.com/webdotwiz

webDotWiz Online is at www.webdotwiz.com and this column is at www.webdotwiz.com/column-010410.htm

webDotWiz is on Facebook www.facebook.com/webdotwiz

Posted using the 2009 version of Windows Live Writer.

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