Look UP! April 16, 2009Posted by Sarah in astro 2.0.
Tags: astronomy, iphone, lookup, research, web
Ever wished you had a place on the web where you can find out everything about an astronomical object? Comrade astroblogger Stuart over in the UK has written just the thing. It’s called LookUp and you can access it for free, here. I’ve been playing with it for a few days and it’s a lovely little tool that will come in handy for both the desk-bound professionals and the stargazers out in the field.
The web already has an immense number of resources on astronomy. There’s NASA’s ADS for publication searches, databases like SIMBAD and NED for co-ordinates and basic data: what type of object is it, where can I find it in the sky, what’s its luminosity? In recent years the visualisation of astronomical data has been brought to the web in the shape of Google Sky and WikiSky. These sites are all treasure troves for the keen astronomer, but getting the info you want can require a lot of trawling around. LookUp fixes this by giving a one-stop search site for astronomical targets that will give you an overview of the data and images available on other sites.
Now, I was a big fan of the LookUp webpage already, but now it’s also possible to add LookUp to your Firefox search bar so you can do quick searches from your browser window, without having to navigate to the LookUp site. Like so:
Soon there will also be an iPhone application available in the iTunes store (for free!), and a Mac desktop widget, thanks to Alasdair and Rob. I’m actually playing with a sneak preview of the iPhone app right now and it’s pretty sweet! Especially handy for stargazers out and about who are far from wi-fi connections or don’t want to drag their laptops around.