TechNews: Explore the UNIVERSE while sitting in front of your COMPUTER!

Did you know that you can now experience the universe while sitting comfortably in front of your computer? Just recently, Microsoft Corp. has released a free public beta of its WorldWide Telescope, which is a software that lets both amateur and professional stargazers explore the universe from their PCs. The WorldWide Telescope is a rich Web application that accesses high-resolution images taken by ground- and Earth-orbiting telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

“The WorldWide Telescope is a powerful tool for science and education that makes it possible for everyone to explore the universe,” Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, said in a statement. “Our hope is that it will inspire young people to explore astronomy and science, and help researchers in their quest to better understand the universe.”

“Users can see the X-ray view of the sky, zoom into bright radiation clouds, and then cross-fade into the visible light view and discover the cloud remnants of a supernova explosion from a thousand years ago,” Roy Gould, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement. “I believe this new creation from Microsoft will have a profound impact on the way we view the universe.”

The program is similar to Google Sky, a mode of Google Earth that offers views of the universe, including high-resolution photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope and background information on discoveries and constellations.

Microsoft said WorldWide Telescope will be made available for free as a tribute to Jim Gray, a Microsoft researcher who disappeared off the California coast while sailing last year.


To fully experience the universe in front of your computer, you must download first and install a Web 2.0 visualization software environment (called WorldWide Telescope or WWT) provided in the website. Check it out here! Before installing the software, consider first the minimum systems requirements below.

WorldWide Telescope minimum system requirements:

  • Microsoft® XP SP2 (minimum), Windows® Vista® (recommended)
  • PC with Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 2 gigahertz (GHz) or faster, recommended
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM; 2 GB RAM recommended
  • 3D accelerated card with 128 megabytes (MB) RAM; discrete graphics card with dedicated 256-MB VRAM recommended for higher performance
  • 1 GB of available hard disk space; 10 GB recommended for off-line features and higher performance browsing
  • XGA (1024 x 768) or higher resolution monitor
  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing and scrolling device
  • Microsoft® DirectX® version 9.0c and .NET Framework 2.0
  • Required for some features; Internet connection at 56 Kbps or higher through either an Internet service provider (ISP) or a network. Internet access might require a separate fee to an ISP; local or long-distance telephone charges might also apply

Screenshots: (click to enlarge)

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