Press Release

New UW Faculty Member Led Technical Development of Sky in Google Earth

By SpaceRef Editor
August 22, 2007
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New UW Faculty Member Led Technical Development of Sky in Google Earth
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Andrew Connolly, who recently arrived at the University of Washington as an associate professor of astronomy, spent the last year as technical lead for the development of Sky in Google Earth, a new feature for users of Google Earth.

“Google’s ability to organize and share information, together with the extraordinary images collected by the latest generation of sky surveys, provided us with a unique opportunity,” Connolly said.

He spent seven years at the University of Pittsburgh and went to Google in May 2006 under a visiting faculty program, then arrived at the UW earlier this month.

Sky was created by blending images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, of which the UW was a founding member, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Digitized Sky Survey to create a seamless view of the night sky.

With the new feature of Google Earth, users can zoom in on a view of the sky over any point in the world and explore hundreds of millions of stars and galaxies. Additional information about each object’s history or nature will be available by clicking on the object.

Connolly received a doctorate in physics and astronomy in 1993 from Imperial College at the University of London, and was at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the University of Chicago.

Besides Connolly, the Sky in Google Earth development team also included Simon Krughoff, who also joined the UW astronomy department as a research associate this year after serving as a research associate at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Sky is more than just a way to explore the universe. It is a way to share information and ideas among people spread across the globe,” Krughoff said.

Connolly and Krughoff are working to add more astronomical data to Sky in Google Earth to provide a view of the universe at many different wavelengths. Viewers can get a glimpse of the universe just 350,000 years after the big bang, taken by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, by visiting the UW astronomy department’s Web site at http://sky.astro.washington.edu. The site also contains images of the sky as it looks at wavelengths not visible to the naked eye, such as those from NASA’s Infrared Astronomical Satellite. These new perspectives are featured at http://earth.google.com/gallery.

Connolly and Krughoff will continue to develop those and other features for Sky, incorporating a variety of astronomy data from around the world.

For more information, contact Connolly at (206) 543-9541, (412) 983-5329 or ajc.atwork@gmail.com

SpaceRef staff editor.