Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Caltech Powers Google Sky
Pasadena-based Caltech is helping to power part of Google's new astronomy features on its Google Earth software, through images from the school's Palomar Observatory. Caltech said that Google is using digital versions of sky surveys conducted at Caltech's Palomar Observatory, the astronomy research observatory operated by Caltech in northern San Diego. Google announced Wednesday morning that it has expanded its Google Earth software, to allow users to view the sky as seen from Earth. The new software additions allow users to view constellations, monitor lunar positions and moon phases, and also overlay high resolution images into the display. Caltech's Palomar Observatory operates a number of telescopes, including the 48-inch Samuel Oschin telescope, which was used for the images in the Google software. Caltech also said this morning that it has added a new layer to the Google Earth software, which will list particularly interesting locations of night sky phenomena. The school's VOEventNet project will provide an overlay into Google Earth of real-time updates of cosmic gamma-ray bursts--believed to be caused by the creation of black holes--and gravitational microlensing events, used by astronomers to detect the presence of planets around stars.