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Last Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
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By Kate Russell
Click Webscape-r

Kate Russell gives us her latest selection of the best sites on the World Wide Web.

Celestial

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Celestia is the programme that is taking us to the moon, and anyone can download it for free from the website.

Based on a genuine star catalogue, Celestia is as real as can be. It allows you to navigate your way around the universe, visiting stars, planets and moons.

It is not easy to start off with - even if you turn it up full speed, it can take a while to get anywhere - well, that black stuff is not called space for nothing, you know.

If the enormity of space causes you to get lost, and it will, you can use the Go To Object window to take you straight to a star or planet, wherever you were heading.

Once you reach the object, Celestia will fill you in with the facts and figures as well as some spectacular visuals. You can explore the planets in our Solar System, the one hundred thousand million stars in our galaxy, or even move beyond - outside the Milky Way. The scalability of this simulation is incredible.

Celestia is a fully working planetarium in your computer.


Slacker Astronomy

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For close encounters of a second kind, head over to Slacker Astronomy. It is a shining example of a great community blog.

The different members of the team post links and interesting tidbits of information, as well as a regular podcast that is - frankly brilliant, and the occasional vodcast.

What makes this site such a good watch, or listen, or read, is that as well as being jokey and enthusiastic, there is a real depth of knowledge.

And if you want to become part of the slacker community, there is a forum. You can also contribute to the Slackerpedia Galactica - a kind of specialised Wikipedia with a sense of the absurd.


Stuck In Customs

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Back on Earth, here is a blog that takes you right across the globe with some astounding photography.

Stuck In Customs is regularly updated by photographer Trey Ratcliffe. Trey uses special techniques to create these striking images.

It is hard to put your finger on what makes these photos feel so realistic yet so unreal at the same time.

I discovered the answer in one of Trey's blog entries. It links to a detailed tutorial he has written on something called High Dynamic Range photography or HDR.

HDR is a software technique where you adjust the contrast ratios on the photographs. When you do this, you can see a great range of intensities between light and dark areas.

HDR photos show the world looking less like a camera sees it and more as our eyes perceive it.

The only drawback to HDR is that Trey believes you need to show the pictures very large to get the full effect, so his blog can be a bit slow to scroll through.




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