Microsoft World Wide Telescope is so much more than just another On-Line app. It is a full-fledged, operating telescope that you can easily set to your own location! I’ll explain the settings. First, I’d like you to know how really versatile this interface is. Let’s start out with a picture of that.
I know the image is small and hard to distinguish so I’ll include it in a gallery of screen shots I achieved using this program (Free)… I draw your attention to the square box with the target, near the center of the picture. If you right click on any star on the screen, you will get this context box that tells you the objects magnitude, constellation, name and sometimes distance from us, as well as some selections at the bottom for a web search. Click the: “Go to object” button and you get a free 3D space ride to that object! The context menu at the bottom of the screen will then update to include nearby objects to the one you’ve selected, as well as the constellation, so you know what part of the sky you’re in. This menu can be toggled on or off via the view menu at the top of the page and reappears when you mouse over it.
The program does not come the way I’ve displayed it to you. The opening screen is filled with a lot of crap that obstructs your view of the sky: constellation lines, a center cross recital, planetary orbit lines, a big grey unnecessary control panel on your right. This too can be toggled off via the “view” and “settings” menus up top. There are 7 menu items that provide a tabbed panel when selected. Be careful to notice that each menu also has a drop down menu with additional settings; all fairly straight forward. No rocket science needed here. You can turn most of this stuff off using the menu of items displayed on your left. Pressing the big, “manage” button toggles this pane on and off as well.
You press F11 to go to full screen mode, and it is from here (after you’ve turned everything off) that you will get wonderful screen shots! I looked back at the Hubble site and found the pictures filled with color noise so bad, it’s unremovable. It never used to be this way. That’s why screen shots from this World Wide Telescope are so breath-taking and free! I got 100 good shots for just this season. there are 100 more waiting for each season, as the sky changes! Lots of fun, and they’re all as you see fit. Just hold down your mouse and drag the screen around to your liking. I’m only showing you a few shots so you can explore on your own. All these shots are 1920×1080. Use them for desktop backgrounds, or as I do; I’ll delete the background of a picture and insert the star background. There are all kinds of ways to experiment; add space ship brushes, laser brushes, exo-planets. The list of wild stuff you can do with this is endless!
If you have trouble finding some of these beauty’s in the sky, choose “search” menu and key in what you’re looking for. Eg: M1 or “The Crab Nebula”. Also, you can take tours from that menu and press the ‘esc” key to stop the tour and take a screen shot if you like. Just press F11, move your mouse cursor out of the way and press “print screen” on your key-board. Then go to a graphics editing program. Choose file/new. Make it 1920×1080 pixels. Choose edit/paste to capture your screen shot. Flatten the layers if there are any: Layer/Flatten Image (In Photoshop). Choose: “Save as” give it a name and an extension (jpg), location, and you’re good to go! Be sure and uncheck the boxes on the left panel for constellation lines, planetary orbits, asteroids etc. until your screen clears up. Easily set your location in the “settings” tab.
There’s a button on the bottom left to choose solar system, planets, sky… Choose “sky”. There’s also a tricky little button midway across the bottom that says “cross fade” on it. It won’t appear unless you’re on a tour and they’re using a super imposed Hubble picture over the background. Sliding the dial all the way to the left gets rid of that smaller picture for less intrusive screen shots… The knowledge base and usage for this app. goes far beyond extraordinary. It’s your own slew-able indoor telescope certainly valued at tens of thousands of dollars and worth its weight in gold for any true Astronomy buff, as well as user friendly operation for the novice. Wonder filled! I hope this helps you on your way to mastering this versatile and informative, eye-popping program. If you encounter any problem, Microsoft has an extensive help site, but I don’t see a problem.