The Google Sky Maps

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The emergence of 3D maps and virtual globes has seen users explore remote parts of the world through detailed pictures and perspectives that were previously not available to a casual searcher. Of the programs used to access these places, Google Earth has moved into the top spot for home computing users and has integrated user photos from many different points in the world. However, the company has expanded the realm of 3D maps once again with the release of Google Sky, a component of Google Earth that allows a person to turn their wandering eyes to outer space and the heavenly bodies found there.

Similar to Google Earth, the Google Sky program is available both as an Internet application and also as a standalone program that can be run from a local computer. In addition to the Milky Way solar system, a person can also explore areas of outer space that are even further away, including famous stars and nebula. Most of the images come from either the Sloan Digital Sky Survey or the Hubble Telescope. These images have been woven together to get a blanket picture of the skies that lie above the earth.

In addition to simple aimless browsing of outer space, there are other layers to the 3D maps that can provide an enhanced user experience. There is detailed information about the Milky Way and filters can be enabled that show the orbit routes of all the planets. In addition, astronomy maps can be highlighted to show the constellations. In addition, there are educational resources found in Google Sky. A person using the program or Internet application can learn interesting information about other galaxies as well as the life of a star. All of these features make Google Sky the first 3D maps program to turn the attention towards outer space.