Microsoft have finally released the public beta of their World Wide Telescope project, and I just had to write about it. It’s a must for any Science teacher, or anyone interested in astronomy.

Basically, its Microsoft’s version of Google Earth/Sky and if you’ve used the Google version in the past then you’ll pick this up very easily.

The software provides a virtual planetarium and lets you study the night sky with great detail. Some of the images are astounding. You can also switch the view to study planets and moons such as Jupiter and Io.

When looking at the stars, right clicking will bring up a star identifier which tells you the name of the star (if known) and some information about it. You can even link direct to the relevant wikipedia page.

Maybe a quick activity would be to search for their star sign (I looked up Aries) and find the names of the stars in the constellation. Maybe even find out how far away they are from Earth.

You can also point the camera downwards and study the Earth instead just like Google Earth, although not in as high resolution. A nice feature is the Earth at Night view which shows just where all the populated areas are. Interesting to use for Geography perhaps?

This is highly recommended and would be an excellent piece of software for anyone who has to teach about the Earth and space. Download it from here.