Microsoft Research has launched the public beta of WorldWide Telescope, a rich Web application that showcases imagery from the best ground- and space-based observatories across the world to allow people to explore the night sky on their computers.
WorldWide Telescope is created with the Microsoft high performance Visual Experience Engine and allows seamless panning and zooming around the night sky, planets, and image environments and lets you see their precise positions in the sky from any location on Earth and any time in the past or future.
Microsoft Research is dedicating WorldWide Telescope to the memory of Jim Gray and is releasing WWT as a free resource to the astronomy and education communities. Take advantage of a growing number of guided tours of the sky hosted by astronomers and educators at major universities and planetariums.
Before you download WorldWide Telescope (21MB), check some minimum system requirements For PC:
* Intel Core 2 Duo processor 2 GHz or faster
* 1 GB of RAM; 2 GB RAM recommended
* 3D accelerated card (128 MB RAM); 256-MB VRAM for higher performance
* 1 GB of hard disk space; 10 GB for higher performance
* Microsoft XP SP2 (minimum)
* Microsoft DirectX version 9.0c
* .NET Framework 2.0 or later
Also remember to explore Google Earth (now packed with street views), Google Moon (in a high resolution) and Google Mars like never before.