Google’s ‘Star Droid’

Monday, May 11, 2009

Google is preparing to launch a mobile phone application called Star Droid that can help amateur astronomers identify stars and planets.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the search engine software will use GPS technology to compare the position of the phone user with existing maps of space, attaching name tags to the stars and planets that can be seen through the phone’s viewfinder.

The California-based Internet company already offers a Google Sky facility that gives online browsers a map of space similar to its Google Earth and Google Street View services.

The application could reignite interest in planets and constellations that has been dampened by light pollution from street lamps that make the night sky hard to observe.

Google, which charges advertisers in its UK sites through a subsidiary based in Ireland saving it 100 million pounds a year in corporation tax, has not confirmed a launch date for ‘Star Droid’.

“There are lots of great applications being produced all the time so you will just have to watch this space,” a spokeswoman said.

According to Carolin Crawford, of Cambridge University’s institute of astronomy, “This innovation sounds like it could be really useful to help people learn what they are looking at. It will be interesting to see how much the camera on the phones will be able to pick up.”

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