August 22nd, 2007 by webmaster
Adding to its popular Google Earth, the search engine and software giant has turned its gaze skyward with Google Sky. Accessed from within the Google Earth desktop application, Sky allows users to peruse the night sky, identify stars, constellations, and a variety of deep sky objects. An information bubble pops up when you mouse over any object, and for many of the identified objects a telescopic image is available.
Although this feature is in its infancy and is not (yet?) a threat to applications such as Starry Night and The Sky, it is nevertheless more than just a fun distraction. A variety of features (particularly the Layers) make it a useful resource for amateur astronomers, and its ease of use and free availability make it attractive for students and educators - many of whom already make use of Google Earth.
From the perspective of both an astronomer and an educator, any free tool that helps people learn astronomy and spread an appreciation of the night sky is a worthy one. Go check it out.
Of course, I should also mention, that for those who don’t want to download and install Google Earth, there is still the earlier, but less well known, Sky-Map.org.