World wide Telescope – books are looking old …
I’m not too often impressed with new free software but World Wide Telescope is truly amazing and a brand new way to look at maps on earth and in space. Think Google earth or Microsoft Virtual earth but add universe and you have World wide Telescope. Except you now move in 3D. It’s a free application you can download from http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/Home.aspx.
Quick start: install app and after start choose at bottom left feature you want to use. Then list box next to it allows you to select different views:
To control use either mouse, keyboard or best XBOX 360 controller to move in space, explore galaxies, look at Mars panoramas from rovers or check out earth at night. Even if you’re not into space, I thought exploring Earth, zooming in and then move over the landscape in 3D looks astonishing. With XBOX 360 controller you have these controls: left/right trigger for zoom, left and right analog to move/rotate. Otherwise with keyboard you can use arrow keys and page down/up to zoom.
Here are some example cropped screen shots of different functionality included:
Explore solar system: