Google Sky Mashup Takes Off

    September 10, 2007

Google offers a lot of products and services, and out of all of them, I might have judged Sky to be least in need of an update.  After all, the program’s practically brand new, and furthermore, the night sky seems like a pretty stable thing to a casual observer like me.  A fresh mashup will update Sky every 15 minutes, however, and it’s starting to sound like a great idea.

Google Sky Mashup Takes Off
Google Sky Mashup Takes Off

“As of this week, Bloom and his team began feeding Google a mash-up of gamma-ray bursts discovered by NASA’s Swift orbiting observatory and the Milagro ground-based observatory; microlensing phenomena detected by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE), which searches for dark matter within the Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way’s galactic bulge; asteroids and optical transients from the Palomar-Quest survey; and newly exploded supernovas from surveys by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Supernova Search and ESSENCE,” according to a UC Berkeley press release.

UC Berkeley, by the way, is the university at which “Bloom and his team” – Joshua Bloom being an assistant professor of astronomy – are based.  The VOEventNet mashup also has strong ties to Caltech.  And as you might have gathered from the previous paragraph, these people, the sky, and Google Sky are all quite busy.

“Right out of the gate, Google Sky has become a powerful tool for the public and in the classroom,” stated Bloom.  “And if it works well and gets more and more of these transient events into the system, we as researchers will be using it.”

The mashup is available through the official VOEventNet site and through the Google Sky site, as well.  Hat tip to O’Reilly Radar’s Peter Brantley.