Friday, March 30, 2012

Looking to the stars, App# 30--Google Sky

Google Sky:

(Though Google Earth is a familiar application and sky is really just an extension of Earth, its features go unnoticed oftentimes. Sky also has the capability of being viewed through a Web browser.)

Synopsis: With sky (in either Google Earth or in a Web browser), you can view the moon, sky, and Mars in infrared, microwave, and historical views. Sky was created through astronomers at some of the largest observatories and through images from the Hubble Space Telescope and other significant sky surveys. In the infrared view, you can change the transparency from optical to infrared. In the microwave view, you can see the universe 380,000 years after the big bang. And, in the historical view, you can see how the sky was drawn by Cassini in 1792. The images are the same in Google Sky and Google Earth. However, you don't need to install Google Earth to view it--you can go directly to Google Sky via a Web browser. You also have the ability to see where the planets are in the sky at the current moment. For the more experienced users, you can embed your favorite view of the sky into any Webpage (just as you can in Google Earth).

Check out what you can do in Sky:

Check out how you can explore sky in Google Earth:

Integration: With an interactive white board, imagine how sky could be utilized. Just as students can manipulate the earth in Google Earth, they can manipulate and interact with the sky (in real time as well) with an interactive whiteboard/sky combo. Earth changed what students could do in the classroom and sky/moon/Mars has advanced that further. Students can now zoom into regions of the sky, moon, and Mars with the touch of their finger. They can walk the moon, fly in space, and see outer-space as if they are actually in it.  Students can search by the different dunes, regions, craters and more in Mars. On the moon, they can take tours of the lunar landing sites. And, in the sky, they can time travel back to 380,000 years after the big bang. Google Sky is one more advancement that makes Google Earth a necessity in any classroom.

Some FAQs from Google:

1. What am I looking at?
Google Sky includes a number of different ways to explore the universe. The initial view shows the visible universe and is a mosaic of images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Digitized Sky Survey and the Hubble Space Telescope. Select the thumbnail images at the bottom of the display to bring up the planets, the constellations, highlights from the Hubble Space Telescope, famous stars, galaxies and nebulae, views of the universe in the x-ray, ultraviolet and infrared and podcasts about upcoming astronomical events from Earth and Sky Podcasts. Other items available through Google Sky:
  • Infrared - An infrared view of the sky from the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS). Change the transparency of this layer by moving the slide bar to blend the optical and infrared.
  • Microwave - A view of the microwave sky from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which shows the universe as it was 380,000 years after the big bang.
  • Historical - The sky as drawn by Giovanni Maria Cassini (printed in 1792) showing the constellations in their classical form from the collections of David Rumsey
2. Is the imagery different from Sky in Google Earth?
The images seen in Google Sky are identical to those found in Sky in Google Earth. We have changed the projection to display these images within Google Maps (the Mercator projection). As with Google Maps this means that we cannot view the northern and southern celestial poles.
3. Where did all these data come from?
The imagery for Google Sky comes from some of the largest ground- and space-based astronomical surveys.
The visible data comes from a combination of surveys: the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Digital Sky Survey Consortium which you can find more about at:,,, and; NASA and ESA's Hubble Space Telescope about which you can find more at the Space Telescope Science Institute and the ESA Hubble Space Telescope home page. More details about these observatories can be found on our partners page.
Additional layers for Sky came from a number of space orbiting observatories: the x-ray data from NASA's Chandra satellite, the ultraviolet images from NASA's GALEX satellite, the infrared images from the joint NASA, Netherlands and UK Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) and the microwave sky from NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite.
The historical constellations layer are created from the historical maps available at the David Rumsey Historical Maps Collection.
The layers were created in collaboration with the University of Washington sky team .
4. Can I find where the planets are on the sky tonight?
Absolutely, type the name of the planet in the search box and Google Sky takes you to where it can be found on the sky. Alternatively, if you click on the "Our Solar System" icon on the initial view, thumbnails of prominent solar system objects appear. Clicking one of these thumbnails will take you to the current location of that planet on the sky.
5. How do I find my favorite place on the sky?
If you know the name of the star or galaxy that you are looking for, simply enter it in the search box (e.g. Pleiades or Messier 85). Don't worry about misspellings Google Sky will spell check it for you. If you want to find a particular position on the sky you can also enter the coordinates (Right Ascension and declination) in the search box.
6. Can I use the add-ons for Sky found in the Google Earth Gallery?
Some KML and KMZ files will work in Google Sky (including those found in the gallery). To load a KML file, simply enter its URL in the search box and click search. Gooogle Maps supports KML features such as placemarks, polygons and image overlays. Time-based KML and regionated images are not currently supported. More details on what features are supported can be found here .
7. Can I create my own view of the sky?
Yes! The imagery for Google Sky is available in the same way as Google Maps. You can embed your own view of the sky on any webpage and customize the view to show your favorite aspect of astronomy. To find out more check out this maps api blog post.
8. How do I find out more about these data, or about astronomy in general?
There are many places on the web to find out more about astronomy and the images we use in Google Sky. Good places to start are the homepages of our partners listed above or at the astronomy page on Wikipedia . There's also a pretty good search engine that could aid you in your quest.

No comments:

Post a Comment