WorldWide Telescope in (Real) Research, and in Education

Alyssa Goodman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Gus Muench, Alberto Pepe, and Patricia Udomprasert (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Jonathan Fay and Curtis Wong (Microsoft Research)


The ′WorldWide Telescope′ was originally envisioned, by Jim Gray and Alex Szalay in 2001, as ′an Archetype for Online Science.′ When the program called ′WordWide Telescope′ was released by Microsoft Research to the public in 2008, it was received by the press primarily as an amazing new tool for outreach--offering access to the world's best astronomical imagery and expertise to all. Since its release, though, free WWT software has become both an essential new piece of the research ecosystem *and* the amazing educational tool the press perceived.

In this talk, I will explain and demonstrate the diverse ways WWT is now being used in research: 1.) within ′official′ VO environments (e.g. via SAMP, within ADS); 2.) as a standalone tool ( under Windows; 3.) as a web application via Silverlight (; and 4.) as an API for displaying data at sites where it is served (e.g.

In education, WWT is being used at all levels of age and expertise. Through the WorldWide Ambassadors Program (WWTA;, astronomy experts are trained to use WWT in both informal and formal (classroom) environments. New educational research on the WWTA program shows that, as in the research environment, the holistic view of the Universe offered by WWT gives learners *much* deepened insight into astrophysical concepts. Most recently, the use of WWT in university classrooms has begun to spread. Since the best of today's university students are the near-future's most important researchers, the ′educational′ environment of universities actually offers the greatest potential for expanding WWT's use in ′research′ in the near-term future.

I will conclude by explaining how WWT is part of a new attitude and environment where online research should be and is ′seamless:′ lines between one application or data source and the next blur--truly the ′Archetype′ Gray & Szalay envisioned.

Paper ID: O15

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