Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Real-time Cosmic Events on Google Sky

Over the years one of the most underused features of the Google Maps API has been the planetary map types and Google Sky map tiles. This is probably why it isn't even supported in V3 of the Maps API.

Despite the lack of support for the planetary map tiles in the Maps API it is still possible to hack the map tiles and use them with Google Maps. SkyWatch has released a new beta application which uses Google Sky to map real-time cosmic events as reported by NASA.

NASA shares data with other scientists and space observatories around the world. The SkyWatch app cherry-picks some of the most interesting cosmic events from that data and shows the location of the events on an astronomical map of the night sky.

The latest cosmic events are displayed in the map sidebar and you can click on the 'sky view' link for each event to see it mapped on the Google Sky map.

If you want to use Google Sky or the planetary map tiles (for the Moon and Mars) on your own maps then you can use this example code available on Google Code.

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