Microsoft WorldWide Telescope is a free download that allows you to explore space using your computer. Everything is nicely organised in tabs and you can move around the cosmos by clicking and dragging the field of view (optionally use a Xbox360 controller for navigation) or chose one of the guided tours that come with a background narrative voice or music and written descriptions. What I loved most was being able to get a 3D panoramic view of planet Mars.
Microsoft WorldWide Telescope brings a virtual 3D planetarium to your home with blow minding customization and filters, beginners can learn about the Universe by clicking on a specific planet and advanced astronomers are able to connect their own telescope to the computer for tracking a specific star. The software is Ascom standards compliant, any astronomical instrument that supports the Ascom platform will work with it.
Constellations, Splitzer, Hubble and Chandra telescope studies, Astrophotography, the Solar System, planet panoramas from landing robots (Apollo, Rover, etc) are all included, many of the images are in high resolution and can be moved around with the mouse. There is no end to the possibilities that this software to explore the Universe offers, its plugin system makes it possible to download new modules as studies advance. WorldWide Telescope consumes a high amount of CPU and RAM, you will need a modern computer to run it, I used an Intel double core E4800 with 4GB of RAM, less than that will slow down the space tours.
I highly recommend this program to all parents and schools out there on top of the obvious astronomers and cosmologists. This tool is the best celestial viewer I have come across, even better than NASA educative software. If you don’t want to install Microsoft WorldWide Telescope in your computer it is possible to use the web client with Microsoft Silverlight in your browser, but it has less features.