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Google Sky Map Enables 'Time Travel'

The Android app can display past or future positions of stars in the sky.

Thomas Claburn

November 18, 2010

2 Min Read

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Google has deliberately chosen not to implement certain controversial technologies, like facial recognition, in its software. However, it doesn't see a problem with peering into the past or future.

The company's Google Sky Map application, available for devices running Android 1.6 and higher, can now provide just such perspective. It's not quite time travel, despite Google's use of the term, but it's as close as anyone is likely to get without approaching the speed of light in a space ship.

"Today, the new version of Google Sky Map lets you time travel to see the sky at a specific date, past or future," said Google's Hector Ouilhet in a blog post. "After smooth travel to the desired year, you can fast forward or rewind in various speeds and watch how the sky changes."

Ouilhet bears the title "lunatic designer" in the blog post, presumably for his association with lunar and stellar projects rather than for any mental instability.

Google has developed a series of space-oriented services, such as Google Sky (unrelated to the mobile app Google Sky Map), Google Moon, and Google Mars.

This is not the first Google service capable of showing the passage of time. Last month, Google published archival imagery in Google Earth, allowing users to see London in pictures from 1945 up through the present.

The latest version of Google Sky Map can be obtained at no cost by visiting the Android Market using an Android phone or by scanning the QR code provided on Google's blog post.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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