Microsoft World Wide Telescope

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Greetings science enthusiasts!


HabCat stars are stars from the Hipparcos Catalog that possibly have planets orbiting them. Jill Tarter and Maggie Turnbull created this list. Of the 12000+ stars, SETI Institute has pointed the ATA at over 400 to listen for activity. These are distinguished in a separate layer.

What is The Microsoft World Wide Telescope?

This is a "visualization software that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope". The program is downloaded to your desktop and run from there. It offers guided tours of the universe, interactive programs, and a community for astronomy enthusiasts. You can also create your own tours and have them published on Microsoft's website. You can find more information here:

Install MWWT

To fully enjoy the HabCat stars layers, you will need to download Microsoft WorldWide Telescope. That is accomplished here:

Download screen for WWT.

It's not run in a web browser, but installs as a program to launch from your desktop. The instructions for downloading and installing the program are very useful.

Once you have that downloaded properly, launch the program. This is the homescreen.

Home screen of WWT application.

Upload the SETI CSV files

To upload the WWT layers, download the two .csv files found here:

Visualize the Layers

Now, look to the left side of the home screen of MWWT. You should see a list of objects in our solar system. This is pictured below. At the bottom, right-click the "sky" layer.

Home screen of WWT application.

Select the "add" option. This will allow you to browse files to add to the layer. Find your downloaded .csv file, and select it. You will have to do this twice for both layers.

Have you successfully added both layers? Are they both check-marked? Good. Now, why can't you see anything? Before cursing the slouches who created these layers, manipulate them a little bit. First, look to the bottom panel of the WWT homescreen, where the icons for all of the planets are. Under the "Look At" tab, make sure to select sky.

Change the properties of the layer.

Then, right-click the layer, and select properties. You will get a menu that looks like this.

Change the properties of the layer.

To clearly see the stars, click on the "scale" tab and drag the scale to about 16 or 32.

Change the properties of the layer.

Feel free to manipulate other settings. Have a little fun with it. When you right-click the layers, you will also see options to change the colors of the markers. It's pretty addictive.

These layers will be saved. They will remain in the layer menu and are accessible any time you use Microsoft WorldWide Telescope. Enjoy!

Take the Tour

Don't forget to be on the lookout for a short tour of a few of the observed stars. It will take users on a trip around the collection of the ATA-observed objects, with a few pit stops at some interesting stars. This will include a bit of extra information courtesy of the SIMBAD and NED databases. This is still being edited, then will be cleared by Microsoft and published on their website. When the tour is available, this will be announced at

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