Announced yesterday at the first day of this years TED conference, the Worldwide Telescope is a spatial interface for exploring the universe. Developed by Microsoft Research this free download for the Windows platform will offer "seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data, and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience."

The site claims the software was created using Microsoft's high-performance Visual Experience Engine™. Details are sketchy at the moment but the technology sounds very similar to their formidable work on Seadragon and PhotoSynth.