Friday, May 1, 2009

World Wide Telescope is Using Me!

Comet Lulin

Comet Lulin

Posted by Mully410

This picture is on the WorldWide Telescope! A while back, I told you about the Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest being held by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. Part of the sign up process involved allowing astrometry.net access to my Flickr photostream so they could send bots to add "astrotags" to my photos. Sounds all Sci-Fi and scary but it isn't.

A few days after I posted my pics from the 100 Hours of Astronomy event, the astometry.net bot crawled by the above Comet Lulin photo. Here are the results:

Hello, this is the blind astrometry solver. Your results are:
(RA, Dec) center:(100.540544592, 22.3360246962) degrees
(RA, Dec) center (H:M:S, D:M:S):(06:42:9.731, +22:20:9.689)
Orientation:-90.28 deg E of N
Pixel scale:0.83 arcsec/pixel
Parity:Normal ("Right-handed")
Field size :14.10 x 7.95 arcminutes

I won't pretend to know wtf all those numbers mean, but I suspect it has something to do with the location of the comet at the time I took the picture. The supercoolest part of this whole story is the astrometry bot left this link: View in World Wide Telescope which takes you directly to the WWT view of my pic of Comet Lulin. Be patient, it takes about 2 minutes to load the web application. Once the app loads, the view will scan around the night sky then zoom in on my pic.

The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world for a seamless exploration of the universe.

This is really cool. From the comfort of you own home, you can scan the skies and view the best pics from telescopes around the world (and off the world). You want to look a nebula, they got it. You want to see the nebula in X-Ray or Infrared, they got it. You want a cool optical image, check. Take and make tours of our great universe.

Microsoft has graciously made this application FREE. You have two options: Download the full client or use the web client. I don't have enough computing power to run the full client on my cheap Dell but the requirements shouldn't be too steep for most people. The web client seems to work fine for me on the big screen TV. For more information go here.

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