Beyond Google Sky

Google Sky is good for a quick look “what’s that you just saw over there?”, but not for anything more than that. Not yet anyway. Mind you, I think it is a good thing. It is easy to use, and definitely worth a look as an astronomy popularization tool. But there are a number of astro visualization programs that can (so to speak) beat the pants off Google Sky with one hand tied behind the back. Check these out (all open source):

XEphem :
Celestia :
Stellarium :

There are many more, of varying degrees of usefulness, user friendliness, and price. Your mileage will vary. But for sheer wow factor, hard to beat Celestia.

[Update 10/01]: The e-Astronomer considers how Google Sky could become more useful. Some interesting tie-ins to Virtual Observatory concepts.

  1. Andy Lawrence:

    Thanks for the link – it made me discover this blog – its really good ! I have been an astrostats fan since 1980 when I discovered that social scientists had better methods than we did… This is no longer true and most astronomers are quite sophisticated.

    10-03-2007, 5:04 am
  2. vlk:

    Thanks, Andy. Yeah, astronomers are finally getting back on the path pioneered by Laplace, and do seem to be getting more cognizant of statistical issues. Probably because all the easy sources have already been analyzed to death(!), but still.

    10-03-2007, 8:08 pm
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