The latest version of Sky in Google Earth, released on January 09, 2008 at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas, now contains X-ray images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Along with images from other NASA satellites, the addition of Chandra into Sky in Google Earth provides scientists, students, and amateur stargazers new opportunities to explore the Universe across the electromagnetic spectrum. Eli Bressert, Image Processor at the Chandra X-ray Center, discusses the Sky in Google Earth update.


The AAS in Austin has been very exciting. Beginning on Tuesday, Google started showing it's latest version of Google Sky 4.2. The program now has images from the Great Observatories, which include the Chandra X-ray Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope. If you have the latest Google Earth program you're just one click away from interacting with the Chandra X-ray images on a universal scale.

In the last the decade astronomy imaging has been improving astronomically with new telescopes, techniques, and cutting-edge technology and software. We have now arrived at a new age of imaging that we could call the 'Digital Evolution', where information is being embedded into astronomy images. Imagine that you're looking for a zipped file on your computer and you know what the file contains, but you cannot remember the name of the file. In the same way images until recently had the same problem. Now, with metadata we can rapidly find images just by typing in subjects related to the objects of interest. At the same time the coordinates of where these images lay in the sky are embedded in the JPG and TIFF format images. This allows us to map them into a virtual sky like Google Sky and see them among the stars.

When I first started developing the Chandra Showcase for Google Sky, seeing the X-ray images among the stars was astounding. Even as a science imager working with X-ray images day in and day out, I could finally give context to to the images. Cas A is a bright and colorful companion beside its astronomical neighbors.

As a user who explores the astronomy images in Google Sky, you can easily and quickly place your images among the stars. With just a few clicks in the program you can have your image shown as a layer with a balloon description. Or if you really want to get into it and make a custom balloon, and speed up your images for viewing you can used KML guides and wcs2kml provided by Google.

What we see now with the digital evolution is just the beginning. The images from Chandra and the other great space telescopes are being implemented and used in new ways that we have not imagined before. Thanks to programs like Google Sky, Microsoft World Wide Telescope, and others astronomy can reach the world in a whole new way, where every wavelength is seen interactively in the night sky.

-Eli Bressert


thanks you for very good

Thanks you for very good article.

great post!

Very cool article. I love your blog.

This is great that they are

This is great that they are using images from Chandra in google sky, which I think is the coolest site that has ever been made - I literally spend countless hours just zooming in an out :)

Love it

Hi, I am always stunned when I go on a discovery tour with Google Sky. It makes me feel rather small and expendable, when you see your life within in a much larger scope.

Richard Berater


Great news indeed! having to see whats beyond Google Earth, just reeks of awesomeness! great stuff. these images are just way too visually stimulating!

Google Sky

Good information, thank you.

Google sky is amazing like

Google sky is amazing like one said. I believe it will help students to be more associated to space because everything in life has some role model and something to look up to, but now, they do because of Google Sky.

Wow! this is very superb

Wow! this is very superb news to hear.I heard about Google sky in Book Reports.And now I had the full details of it.Really had a great share.Thanks for sharing.

What's next for Google Earth?

I'm pretty amazed by the development of Google Earth and Google Maps. I can remember when Google Earth was first released and I would sit at my computer for ages just playing around with different locations!

Something that really has me hooked is the street level views on Google maps. Being able to view the streets as if you're in whatever location you enter is incredible. I just wonder what technology is around the corner next.


I discovered Google sky just

I discovered Google sky just a while ago and I was amazed. It's truly wonderful. I think this will even help students learn astronomy and other related stuff.


Yeah its really a good post.

good work

good work

Google Earth is great for

Google Earth is great for maps, driving directions and exploration - I find it really useful. Google Sky - wow that will be even more amazing! A map of the universe online - I cannot wait to check it out.

(On a different note) - I heard that there's a lunar eclipse in about a week, and the best place to see it was in South America - true? I'll be on vacation in Brazil then....that a good place to see it?

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