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WorldWide Telescope

CNET Editors' review

WorldWide Telescope is free software from Microsoft that lets users explore the universe with impressive content from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, and other famed ground- and space-based telescopes. Colorful nebulae, distant galaxies, black holes, and radiation clouds are all accessible from your desktop with a few clicks.

The main WorldWide Telescope interface includes seven tabs for navigating: Explore, Guided Tours, Search, Community, Telescope, View, and Settings. Some of the tabs, such as Explore and Search, include collapsible submenus with further options at the bottom of the interface. The bulk of the screen is devoted to displaying detailed images of objects throughout the universe.

You can move around the sky by clicking with your left mouse and dragging the screen. There are multiple mouse and keyboard commands for rotating and tilting the view, and zooming in and out. Right-click on any object to learn more about it. You can save your favorite places in the universe to visit them later under "My Collections," and you can watch guided tours of the universe conducted by experts and users. You can also add text, images, and shapes to enhance your tour, and you can even layer a soundtrack and voice over.

There are a few niggling bugs--zooming with the mouse wheel is inaccurate, canceling the download of a guided tour crashes the program, and the help content is hidden underneath the Explore drop-down menu. However, the software boasts a hoard of amazing telescope imagery to be explored as well as very cool features that let you view, save, and manage that imagery in many different ways. WorldWide Telescope appears to be an invaluable tool for hobbyists, astronomers, students, educators, or anyone curious about the universe.

Publisher's Description

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All User Reviews
  • All versions:

    3.6 stars

    out of 174 votes

    • 5 star: 69
    • 4 star: 45
    • 3 star: 17
    • 2 star: 9
    • 1 star: 34
  • Current version:

    4.4 stars

    out of 5 votes

    • 5 star: 2
    • 4 star: 3
    • 3 star: 0
    • 2 star: 0
    • 1 star: 0
  • My rating:

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