Microsoft has side-swiped Google with an apparently early version of a "World Wide Telescope." While Google Earth or Microsoft's Virtual Earth are limited to data on Earth, this new project expands into space with the help of space images taken by the Hubble telescope. So far, the "World Wide Telescope" includes little more than a few images, but more coverage of the universe and the addition of rich data sets will translate into a valuable resource tool.
Meanwhile, Google has struck a partnership with scientists building a huge sky-scanning telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), on a mountaintop in Chile, with hopes of helping the public with a "people's telescope" to provide access to real-time digital footage of asteroids, supernovas and distant galaxies. Officials say the telescope will open "a movie-like window" on nearby asteroids and far-off exploding stars, and help explore the mysterious "dark energy" believed to fuel the universe's expansion.