Folks at Google have just released an interesting display for the Chrome web browser that shows 100,000 stars
in the area around our part of the Milky Way Galaxy. The display includes background music and is capable of allowing one to zoom in and out, roll the display in different directions, and select the display to show the spectral index and star colors. Clicking on individually labeled stars zooms into a closer view of the star (artwork), and some text describing some of the features/properties of that star. There is also a tour option that starts close to the Sun and then slowly zooms out with pauses at selected distances to briefly explain that particular point in space.
Coming across this web site is rather timely as my classes are just now starting their unit on stars, with this week about spectra. Two other similar web sites they will be examining are NASA’s Mission Science
web site, and the Chromoscope
While the 100,000 Stars display is interesting and fun to play around with there are other web-based tools for visualizing our space. There is the World Wide Telescope
that does similar things as well as much much more. On a more local perspective there is the Solar System Scope
web site, and NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.