Friday, October 28, 2011
A revolution in Astronomy and Astrophysics is taking place. Wide-area multi-wavelength astronomical imaging surveys are underway that will provide high resolution full sky views across the electromagnetic spectrum. They will provide humanity’s first digital map of the universe.
More than any other single instrument, the Hubble Space Telescope has been responsible for shaping the scientific and public view of the universe, particularly through its active outreach program. However, the information thus far provided to the public has been largely curated and static, limiting the participation of non-professional astronomers in exploring and utilizing Hubble data. This will have to change if we are to realize the full value of the flood of digital information that is being produced by the new sky surveys. The information must be made available to allow all users to actively explore the cosmos themselves. In 2006 I proposed that Google develop an intuitive visual interface to make the information easily available to everyone, everywhere. The result, GoogleSky, was released in 2007. By streaming imagery, catalogs, time domain and ancillary information directly to a user, it provides the general public with a wealth of information for use in education and research.
This talk will describe the development of Google Sky how it works and its technical features. The talk also will use GoogleSky as a virtual telescope for a journey from our solar system to the edge of the known universe as seen through the eyes of the Hubble Space Telescope.