Browser planetarium from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — A science moment!!

I found Virtual Sky after reading an old Sky & Telescope magazine a friend mailed me just before summer vacation began. I only got around to reading it today.

Virtual Sky is a browser-based planetarium that you can embed in your blog or website. Mine here shows the sky at it would appear from Jishou, because that’s where I live. The red line is the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the sky. That’s also where you’ll find the planets, the Moon and the signs of Zodiac hanging out, too. Holding down the left mouse button and scrolling left or right will change the view. Cardinal points are at the bottom.

There are options you, the reader, can control, too. With the mouse pointer over the map, type a question mark (?) for a list of keyboard commands. Typing a capital S will show names of some bright stars, like Wentworth Miller or Natalie Portman. Typing p will show the planets, Sun and Moon.

If it doesn’t work right, you may using too old a version of Internet Explorer. Sucks for you. Get Chrome or Firefox.

And I was just joking about Wentworth and Natalie. I mean, they’re smart, but … oh, you know what I mean.

If you’re familiar with the night skies in North America, you may notice that Ursa Major (which contains the Big Dipper) is lower in the sky in this view, and some unfamiliar constellations are lurking there along the southern horizon. That’s because Jishou is at 28 degrees north latitude, so Polaris is 10 degrees closer to the ground than it would be in Louisville, KY. From here in China, we can see some objects that are “covered” by the southern horizon in most of the USA.

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) was founded in 1993 by Wayne Rosing, former director of technology at Google. Its aim is to create a global network of remotely controlled telescopes spanning the globe, to allow 24-hour observation of any point in the sky. So far, there are seven telescopes in operation in Hawaii, Texas, California, Cerro Tololo, Chile, New South Wales, Australia, and Sutherland, South Africa. Others are planned, with a goal of 40 networked telescopes.

The network is available for professional and amateur research, and education. So, if you’ve got some questions about “what’s out there,” visit their website to see how to get some telescope time. They also have live webcams (Not THAT kind of webcam. Besides, astronomers do it in the dark, so you’d need an IR camera.) and photos taken with the telescopes.

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One comment on “Browser planetarium from the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network

  1. Reply James Wheaton Sep 9,2013 11:23 pm

    Check this out: Hover over the DSS icon and click Astro Photo Survey

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