Friday, April 18, 2008 at 2:24 PM
Along with many other features in Google Earth, Sky is new and improved with the release of the Google Earth 4.3 client.
The first thing you'll notice is that switching from Earth to Sky is much faster in the new version, thanks to some clever re-working of the client internals. Once you're in Sky, you'll see that we've re-worked the landing zone around the Pinwheel Galaxy. We've created introductions for each folder, giving you a brief description of that folder's layers and links so you can easily start exploring. Last but not least, we've also added four exciting new layers.
When we updated Sky a few months ago, one of our goals was to present views of the sky across different wavelengths and time. The imagery from Spitzer, Chandra, GALEX, WMAP and IRAS showed how different the universe looks depending on how you view it, and the historical maps by Cassini and Hevelius showed how humankind's view of the stars has changed over time. With this update, we've expanded along the audio-visual axis, with layers from Celestron, SpaceTelescope.org's Hubblecast, StarDate, and Virtual Tourism joining the podcasts from Earth & Sky to provide you with sights and sounds as you explore the universe. These audio-visual layers use Flash, which is now supported on Macs in 4.3.
Starting from the upper left and moving clockwise:
- The Hubblecast brings you the latest science from the Hubble Space Telescope in video form, complete with animations and explanations by the astronomers doing the observations.
- StarDate, produced by the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory, provides daily podcasts about the latest astronomy news and what's up in the sky for stargazers.
- The Celestron layer uses the audio from its SkyScout to give users a guided tour of over 200 objects around the sky, from constellations to the brightest stars and deep sky objects that can be seen with the naked eye.
- Keir Clarke of Virtual Tourism put together an excellent collection of astronomy videos from around the web, all registered to the proper location on the sky.Keir's efforts follow in the footsteps of Stephanie Lange, who assembled the Hevelius Constellations layer. They are examples of Sky users who created something so cool that we had to share it with the widest possible audience.