Google unveiled a browser version of its Google Sky application on Thursday for people who don't want to download the Google Earth software.
The browser version allows you to zoom in and out and pan around the celestial bodies, search for planets and galaxies and view the sky through infrared, x-ray, ultraviolet, and microwave views.
There are also galleries of some of the best shots from the Hubble telescope and others. You can also listen to podcasts and look at historical maps of the sky.
The backstory on the app is that it was done by staff engineers and Diego Gavinowich, from Buenos Aires, who was a finalist in Google's Latin America Code Jam and spent the past three months in an internship at the company, according to the official Google Blog.
[…]We're very pleased to tell you that Google Sky is now available on the web at sky.google.com. You can search for planets, listen to Earth & Sky podcasts, watch some beautiful Hubble telescope images, or explore historical maps of the sky from the comfort of your browser.
Sky in Google Earth, which launched last August, was originally available to our 350 million Google Earth users. This release brings the universe to every browser and makes Sky accessible to just about anyone with an Internet connection — from school children to professional astronomers — in 26 different languages.
To learn more about Google Sky web edition, watch this short video, and read the full story on the Google Lat Long blog.
Several weeks ago Microsoft demonstrated its own virtual telescope software called Worldwide Telescope that will be available for free this spring.
Last month, Google was sued by a former contractor who alleges that the idea for Google Sky was his.
Google Sky now comes in a browser version that lets you browse through various galleries of planets and galaxies and click on spots to get more information.
This screenshot shows information about the planet Regulus in the constellation Leo, one of the brightest stars in the nighttime sky.