Microsoft released today what you may call a “space version of Google earth”, a free software application called WorldWide Telescope that allows everyone from space novices to astronomy professors to easily explore galaxies, star systems and distant planets.
The WorldWide Telescope stitches together 12 terabytes (the data equivalent of 2.6 billion pages of text) of pictures from sources including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The experience is similar to playing a video game, allowing you to zoom in and out of galaxies that are thousands of light years away. It allows seamless viewing of far-away star systems and rarely-seen space dust in breathtaking clarity.
The software allows users to develop their own guided tours of the universe to share with others or take part a guided tour created by astronomy experts.
Download it here.