Wiki Sky

Wiki-Sky Sample ImageAnyone who follows this blog on even a casual basis has probably noticed that I’m a huge space geek. If it involves telescopes, or stars, or space ships, or exploring other planets, its endlessly fascinating to me, and I’ve probably written something about it in these pages somewhere along the way. I happen to think humanity’s move into space is an evolutionary step in humanity’s future … “the final frontier” to steal a phrase. Today, we gaze out on that “final frontier” spread out tantalizingly in front of us, yet frustratingly out of reach … even ignoring the fact that we are centuries away from any sort of “reasonable” regular travel in space, even in an interplanetary sense, the size, the complexity, the sheer volume of information is very daunting. While many people are fascinated by astronomy and space, it all seems too vast to comprehend. Which is where Wiki-Sky comes in.

Wiki-Sky is one of the most innovative combinations of web technology and information I’ve seen, perhaps since Google Earth gave us the first truly interactive atlas. In much the same way Google Earth lets us explore the planet we live on, Wiki-Sky lets us explore the universe that planet inhabits. I haven’t gone through all of the functions yet, but it looks to be very easy to use. Dragging the mouse lets you “spin the heavens around” to get a view of a different part of the sky, and there are dialogs that let you select a specific place on earth to display the current sky for, among other things. A slider zoom on the left lets you move from the “naked eye” view you’d get standing outside on a clear dark night, right up to the highest resolution telescopic image available for that patch of sky. While I wished the zoom feature was also tied to the scroll wheel on my mouse, that was a small complaint given the fluidity of the interface.

The information and images in Wiki-Sky seem beyond impeccable … I zoomed in on the Centauri group as a test and got a wonderfully detailed view of both Alpha Centauri and Rigel Kentaurus. But beyond the very good science, the truly remarkable thing about Wiki-Sky is the interface. Zooming and panning are as fluid as any online “atlas” application, and I found the image loading much quicker than many (though admittedly that may be due to lower server loads, depending on relative hits vs server power). Its unusual to find a science or information based website with such a wonderfully simple, intuitive and smooth interface, so if you have any interest in astronomy and space science at all, Wiki-Sky is definitely a spot you want to bookmark.

Oh, and kudos to Why Don’t You Blog, a fascinating blog from the UK that discusses pretty much everything under the sun from a critical, intelligent, secular perspective for pointing me toward Wiki-Sky … they run a great blog over there, and I often get ideas from them, lol ;-). I originally saw Wiki-Sky over there.

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One Response

  1. Glad you like the site and link! I have the same opinion over space things so i’ll keep my eye out for more!

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