I’m not afraid to admit that I get truly excited about technology of all shapes and sizes.  The joy comes from experiencing cool design, life-changing functionality, and pure fun…but perhaps the most meaningful and powerful reactions are to technologies that fundamentally open up our world and connect people to information and other people like never before.  Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is an excellent example of the type of tool I get incredibly passionate about, and it’s something I routinely visit for inspiration.   For those unfamiliar, I urge you to stop reading and download the tool right now…

Image of Jupiter

 The WorldWide Telescope is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope.  It brings together imagery from the best ground- and space-based telescopes in the world for seamless exploration of the universe.  Whether you download the application (providing online and offline access) or just use the web client, the WWT provides a wealth of options and resources designed to inform, illustrate and inspire. 

 The WorldWide Telescope is supported by a breadth of satellite imagery, contributions from globally respected astronomers and even guided tours created by seven-year-old explorers.  Through a recent partnership between Microsoft and NASA, planetary images and data...including high-resolution scientific images and data from Mars and the moon...will be explorable on the WorldWide Telescope. 

Whether you use the tool in a lesson plan, leverage the guided tour capability for visual presentations or just explore the universe, I’m confident you’ll be rewarded and impacted by the journey. 

Links:
Microsoft Research feature story:

http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/news/features/worldwidetelescope.aspx

Webcast (Teacher Tech Tuesday) -- presented by the creator/inventor, Curtis Wong:
http://www.educationwebcasts.com/Webcast.aspx?i=3692

Free posters for your classroom:
http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/posters.aspx

Worldwide Telescope Academic Development Kit:
http://blogs.msdn.com/dan_fay/archive/2009/01/21/worldwide-telescope-academic-development-kit-release-microsoft-research.aspx