Latest Google 'Wonder' Is Out of This World

Stargazers: Google Sky Map puts a planetarium in your pocket.

ByKI MAE HEUSSNER and RUSSELL GOLDMAN
May 12, 2009, 5:49 PM

May 13, 2009 — -- For the folks at Google, it seems that the world is not enough.

Having conquered the Earth, the Google Maps team is now taking on the sky with a new tool that gives amateur astronomers a way to put a planetarium in their pockets.

ABCNews.com has gone to the ends of Google Earth (and Maps) to explore some of the most interesting images left behind by pranksters, artists, Mother Nature and everyday people.

But its latest "wonder" is out of this world.

Launched Tuesday, Google Sky Map lets users view a labeled map of the sky on smart phones powered by Google's Android operating system.

Using GPS technology, a date clock and a compass, it helps users identify and locate all the stellar spectacles in the sky.

With a compass and an accelerometer, the application determines the exact location that your phone is facing and shows you the stars that are visible.

Let's say you want to identify the brightest star over the horizon, you just point the phone in that direction and "Venus" would pop up on your screen.

According to Google, the app doesn't need a line of sight to find the stars and planets. Even on a cloudy night, it will show you the stars up in the night sky.

A whole community of Google Earth explorers and bloggers catalogs the latest virtual places of interest, from heart-shaped lakes and capsized cruise ships to unusual-looking houses and buried treasure. Now they'll get to travel virtually to the final frontier.

But before they do, here are some of the earthly wonders they've uncovered.

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