Monday, June 20, 2011

Four cool tools for studying astronomy

Two of my favourite applications when it comes to studying the stars are Celestia and Stellarium. The former allows one to fly through the solar system following planets, asteroids or satellites, while the latter allows one to place oneself anywhere in the world to watch the constellations travel across the sky above. Stellarium also allows one to pause, fast-forward or rewind time to see what the starts do. There are some very cool videos on youtube that showcase what these two programmes can do:
There is also an increasing number of applications for Android that help people learn more about the night sky while standing in their front yard as well. Google Sky Map is great. If you want to find where Mars is, type in Mars and it will point an arrow in the right direction until you find it (video). Satellite AR is something I've only just discovered but it is no less impressive. It uses augmented reality to overlay the night sky with images and trajectories of satellites passing overhead. Here's a demo of it in action:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wikitude AR

Okay, so here's something I've been playing with for a while: Wikitude AR. I first discovered it 18 months ago and have been working on integrating it with what we do at Albany Senior High School. It's augmented reality, which revolves around placing information into the landscape. The content is accessible with the use of a smartphone and mashes up GPS, 3G or wifi and a phone's compass. My history class had some fun placing information about the 1951 Waterfront Strike around the waterfront in Auckland. If you're interested in learning more, you can go there, and with the help of Wikitude AR learn as much as you like. Because the content is wiki-based and placed into the landscape, the only limit is a teacher's (or a class's) imagination. Here's a video of Wikitude AR being used around the Waitemata Harbour:
P.S. the bird you can hear calling in the video is the pukeko; a tenacious Aotearoa wading bird.