Playing with Google Sky

I have been playing with Google Sky recently. As a sort of case-study, I made for myself a little script that overlays data from NASA’s SkyView website onto Google Sky. If you don’t know, SkyView dubs itself a ‘virtual telescope’. Essentially its a way to look up regions of the sky with any of a large number of surveys. Can you see what an astronomical object looks like in UV or in Infrared, for example.

Combining SkyView and Google Sky would, in my opinion, be a true archival telescope. Allowing you to point and zoom and spin about the whole sky, choosing the wavelength of your choice as you go from old archived surveys. Thus I have made a single-survey example of such an idea in action, using the IRAS 100 micron survey (infrared).

All of SkyView’s data is public domain and the images grabbed by the script are simply the small ones that SkyView would serve you upon searching their database. This makes the load on both your and their server much lighter than using any other method.

Below is a screen capture of Orion in the IRAS 100 micron band. The colour table has been chosen to show off this particular wavelength. Colour tables for other wavelengths would have to be picked individually to give the best look and feel.


Let me know what you think of this. I would like to do more, but there are a lot of surveys and I’m not sure how to structure the KML. Should it simply be a case of each survey having its own KML file and layer in Google Sky? A better approach might be to combine surveys by wavelength within Google Sky folders.

Your feedback, as always, is much appreciated.

Download the KMZ file for the IRAS 100 micron overlay by clicking here.

An aside: The green hexagons you can see all over this image are for another Google Sky project I am working on. More to follow in a few days.

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