One of my programming dreams from long ago has finally come true. When I was a kid, I was really interested in Astronomy. During High School when I experimented with programming, one of the things I wanted to do was enter all the star locations, distances, and brightnesses into a data file and program the view of the sky from anywhere on the Earth at anytime.
I had a 300 page book with all the star information. But with everything else I was doing and with my computer chess work I was doing, I didn’t have the time to enter 15,000 stars onto punched cards. They didn’t have the Internet then to download the data. Nor did they have scanners to make data entry easy.
They have for awhile had many good sky programs and many of them are Open Source and free. The one I’ve heard best things about is Celestia, but I’ve never got to trying it myself. It was only a year ago that I got a computer that would be powerful enough for it.
But now, the company who is making it really happen again is … you guessed it … Google. Google Maps is great online, but Google Earth is amazing for its 3-D rendering. So now they have: Google Sky. With the new version 4.2 of Google Earth, you can switch from earth view to sky view and do in sky view what you can do in earth view. The links to images of objects and Wikipedia information makes it a wonderful tool.
But 20 minutes is about all I can spend on it. Behold’s current version expires in 9 days so I’ve got to wrap up my changes quickly and get the new version out fast.