September 12, 2010

A report on World Wide Telescope India Workshop

The World Wide Telescope is a virtual telescope. It is basically a software which shows 3 dimensional virtual sky which can be used to introduce the subject or can either be used for serious astronomical research.Not just that, it allows you to see the real pictures of an astronomical objects taken by world class ground and spaced based observatories in different wavelength; but for all this amazing stuff you must have an internet access. WWT stores data at remote server and when you click or zoon in/out the things each time, it goes to that  server and brings the required data for you and display it on your screen.

It was one day workshop arranged by Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) collaboration with Microsoft on 4th September,2010.  I reached IUCAA on 3rd night. Our accommodation was in Nalanda hostel inside the campus. My room had TV, and Air condition, Heater and telephone; it was more than expected.

First session started sharply at 10:00 am at Bhaskara III lecture hall
Ajit Kembhavi ,a director of IUCAA started with the “Welcome and Local Universe”.  It was an overall idea of whole worksohop.  Then after Sridhar Vedantham introduce the wing of Microsoft called Microsoft Research India. The research in this wing is fully academic and not a product oriented. They give training to the people and works in many areas of Computer science and Mathematics.  Third speaker was Yan Xu. She is a senior research program manager of Microsoft. She talked on “Worlwide Telescope Academic Programme”,in which she gave brief introduction on how one can use WWT for academic purpose.  Next spearker, Prof.  T.R.Seshadri of Delhi University gave wonderful lecture. It was on “Science and Outreach at Universities” focusing more on the work which was done by undergraduate students in his own department. I got to know many things from this lecture. He showed that undergraduates can do many serious stuff like professional does.
Session 2 was in Chandrashekhar Auditorium
First speaker Gulab Dewangan spoke on IUCAA’s public outreach programme and WWT. Arvind Paranjape, coordinator of this workshop, then showed how to make WWT tours.  Tour means a short movie which is to be used for outreach activities. 
The WWT is beta version and that means it is not the final  one. There is a scope for it to be modified or to add something more in it. So, one can translate WWT in its own language. Next lecture focused on this only titled “ WWT and Language Localization” given by Samir Dhrude.  If anybody of you are serious in doing this, you can contact Yan Xu on We are going to do it in Guajrati.  Then there was an open discussion on WWT led by Ashish Mahabal of Caltech.

There was a public lecture at last by S.George Djorgovski, Caltech on WWT and Astronomy on the Man-Machine Interface. Machine can’t think right? But George is trying to teach machine to learn from the mistakes !!  Wonderful, isn’t it?  

All and all the workshop was very successful. I got to meet many old and new people/friends. One can download WWT from www.worldwidetelescope .org and its free!                

---Charitarth Vyas

Only two representative from Gujarat; another was Narendra Gor of Kutch Amateur Astronomy Club(KAAC).


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