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Category Archives: WorldWide Telescope

WorldWide Telescope’s new sky imagery and the Mars experience

The latest release of WorldWide Telescope, the Apogee release, has a new version of the sky imagery and, as a bonus, the Mars experience.

If you already have the desktop client version of WWT installed, you’ll be prompted to download and install the new version. This update gives you WWT | Mars as well as the update to WWT.

To download WWT and WWT|Mars for the first time, go to www.worldwidetelescope.org.

The TerraPixel sky image

The team took imagery captured by the Palomar Observatory in California and the UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Springs in New South Wales, massaged these images and created a 1 million pixel by 1 million pixel image (hence terrapixel). This image was cleaned up to form the world’s largest tiled, multi-resolution image.

As a result of this processing, there is now a seamless view of the sky in WWT. In the earlier versions of WWT the imagery of objects was blocky at certain levels of zoom.

The Mars experience


After you’ve installed the latest version of WWT, you’ll also see an icon named WWT|Mars on your desktop or under Microsoft Research in All programs. Clicking WWT|Mars begins the Mars experience.

Microsoft and NASA worked together to bring NASA’s extensive collection of Mars imagery, taken by many Mars observatory craft over the years, but especially the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to a special version of WorldWide Telescope devoted exclusively to give us a Mars experience.

Microsoft’s part in the WWT Mars Experience project was to take NASA’s 3D image and map it to Mars pole-to-pole and colour correct the imagery to what is generally accepted as the colours that we’d observe if we were on Mars itself.

In the end, WWT | Mars enables us to view the Red Planet in 3D, zoom in to particular features such as Victoria Crater and Mons Olympus and take tours of Mars guided by experts in their field.


Finding your way around WorldWide Telescope

To get started using WWT, have a look through webDotWiz’s article, Journey to the centre of the universe with WorldWide Telescope.


As well, there are some hints on navigating around WWT in the opening screen.

To access WWT’s help system, click the small arrow under the Explore menu item at the top of the screen.





Highlights of The Red Planet in WWT|Mars

The top pane gives you the chance to explore various features on Mars, e.g., Mars’ top ten features:


Once you’ve clicked on this choice, the bottom of WWT’s screen gives you more detailed choices:



As you hover over a choice, WWT will show the feature’s location:

When you click your choice of feature to view, WWT may rotate Mars, zoom out then zoom in to the feature you’ve chosen. At the bottom right of the WWT screen is a progress bar to indicate how much imagery is downloading.





Olympus Mons is the highest mountain in the solar system and you can explore it in detail.




When you choose Olympus Mons from the Mars Top Ten collection, the bottom pane of WWT’s screen gives you a range of what you can view in closer detail:


Here’s one such view:


Having explored Olympus Mons, you can then view Valles Marineris, the lowest crevice in the Solar System.

Remember for help, such as astronomy terms and definitions and how to make use of the tutorials, click the bottom half of the Explore button on the top menu.




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Posted using the trial version of Windows Live Writer 2011.


WorldWide Telescope now part of Bing Maps – Look up and see

A new application has been added to Bing Maps, namely the WorldWide Telescope app that enables us to look up and see.

To use this app, follow these steps:

Go to www.bing.com/maps/explore.

If this link doesn’t work (e.g., if you’re in Australia, you’ll end up at the Australian version of Bing Maps), you’ll need to change your country location to United States. To do this, start www.bing.com, up in the top right corner click the name of the country showing (e.g., Australia) and a page of optional countries. At the bottom right of this page, choose United States – English. Now call up www.bing.com/maps/explore.


At the bottom of the left-hand pane, click Map Apps.






Choose WorldWide Telescope.







Click the Start Here button to get going.










image Allow a few seconds for things to load and the bottom half of the left pane gives more options as to what you can easily view.








image After clicking the Start Here button, if you want, you can enter a location in the search box from which to view the sky or use the telescope icon.






image Move the telescope icon to the location of your choice.






image The left-hand pane shows what’s in the sky above at this time (1632 from High Street Rushworth. webDotWiz clicked the telescope icon on High St Rushworth; the time is shown at the bottom left of the sky view).






image Now you can zoom in/out and pan around the sky. Alternatively you can click on any of the sky objects suggested in the left-hand pane. The green line in the screenshot to the left is the ecliptic (the sun’s path across the sky). Note that Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is difficult to view in the sky because it’s always so close to the Sun.






image Choose Venus on the left pane, for example, and you can Fly in for a close up of Venus.






image Zoom in for a closer view of Venus.







That’s a start to viewing the sky from wherever you choose.

WorldWide Telescope can be downloaded from www.worldwidetelescope.org or there’s an online version at www.worldwidetelescope.org/webclient.


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Posted using the 2009 version of Windows Live Writer. Screenshots taken using Microsoft OneNote.

Journey to the centre of the universe with WorldWide Telescope – webDotWiz Online Sep 24 2009

To begin your journey to the centre of the universe, you need to download and install the Windows desktop version of WorldWide Telescope from www.worldwidetelescope.org.

If you find your computer is a bit old and the graphics aren’t up to running WWT (we’ll use this abbreviation for WorldWide Telescope to save screen space) or if you have a Mac, you can still get most of the features of the desktop version by viewing the heavens through the online web client at www.worldwidetelescope.org/webclient/ (note you may be prompted to install Silverlight so do that).

Get your motor running 

When WWT loads, you’ll see a 3D view of the solar system set against the Milky Way. Across the top of the screen are a set of menu items with the Explore mode set. On the next line are the first group of collections (to get to the next group, click the arrow on the far right).


These collections are imagery captured from various telescopes, some ground-based, and others such as the Hubble Telescope, are carried by satellites. The second group of collections include a 3D view of the Solar System, Earth view and panoramas of views taken by Apollo and the Mars Pathfinder for example.

Each of the main menu items has a small white arrow which gives you access to a submenu of options.


So to read WWT’s Getting Started help guide, choose the white arrow under Explore.





Set up WWT for your location

You’ll want to view the sky from where you live so click on View from the top menu.


Now click the Setup button which gives you a list of cities around the world from which to choose. Note that you can be more precise by entering the latitude, longitude and height above sea level of your location. You can find your latitude and longitude in Bing Maps.

Notice to the right of Observing location is Observing time – yes, that means you can time travel (check WWT’s help as to how you might use this feature).

Let’s explore

Click Explore and then choose Hubble Studies. Imagery from the Hubble Telescope is often featured in the media so it’s worth exploring for that reason. If you look at the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll notice that there are fourteen different groups of imagery so there’s plenty here to explore.


Choose SuperNova87A because it was only recently observed in 1987 and has been vigorously studied since that time.

Now the top image menu changes to show that there seven different views of SuperNova87A. Click the first one and the screen fills with a view of this supernova. At the bottom of the screen are similar links to the same images but others have been added to the list.



In the bottom right of the screen you’ll see an indicator that shows the progress of the imagery download that takes place to build up the full screen view of the object you’re viewing. Imagery in WWT is drawn from a number of sources and it makes up terrabytes of data so what’s needed to create the image on your screen comes down and is pieced together by WWT as required.

Panning and zooming

To pan around the screen view, hold down the left mouse button and drag in the required direction. To zoom in and out, use your mouse’s scroll wheel or the page up and page down keys on your keyboard.

You’ll notice that as you navigate around and zoom that more imagery is downloaded to build your view. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, it make take a bit of time for the full image to settle.


Staying with our view of SuperNova87A, right click over the image that’s at the centre of your screen to bring up the Finder Scope. Firstly you can drag the Finder around the screen and it’ll give you information about what’s in its scope. Note, too, that the altitude and azimuth values are constantly changing due to the earth spinning on its axis and our view is thus moving across the celestial sphere.


At the bottom left of the Finder is a Research button. From the popup menu you can choose to find out more information such as following the link to Wikipedia. As well there’s lots more information, much of which is for professional astronomers who want to contribute to various research programs.






Other viewing options

Click your way back to Collections and choose the Solar System. Now click on Jupiter and watch with awe as WWT swings around to a different part of the sky and zooms in to the planet. Depending on when you view Jupiter will determine which of Jupiter’s moons are in view at the present zoom level. That information will be indicated in the bottom pane. For example, at the time of writing (about midday), Io was the only moon shown.

But hang on, you say, Jupiter isn’t visible at midday. So go to View on the top menu and click View from this location. Woosh and you’re looking at a blue screen representing the placement of the horizon in relation to the sky at your location.

Background information

If you’re starting out in astronomy, you might need to look up some defintions such as constellation, nebula, supernova, galaxies, dark matter and inter-stellar gas. As already noted, the Finder Scope gives you direct access to information on the web and there’s Bing Search to help out.

As well there are a number of Guided Tours built-in to WWT to help out. Once you become familiar with WWT, you can even create your own tours of the universe. Hint: click on New Tours for more which include the first imagery of extrasolar planets.

When you’re exhausted from flying around the universe, take the 3D tour of the Solar System. For homework, look through WWT’s help guide to find out how to view some of the universe in 3D for a touch of realism.

WWT quicklinks


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Posted using the 2009 version of Windows Live Writer.

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