Cosmo Guessr?

May 31, 2013

I got hooked on GeoGuessr over the last few days. Apparently its the latest Internet Craze so I don’t feel so special, but I do feel a bit of a junkie. Its hard to stop. The idea is v.simple. They show you a Google Streetview image of some random place in the world. You can roam around somewhat with the usual arrows, looking at the vegetation, hunting for street signs, etc. Then you guess where you are by plonking a pin on the world map. The closer you get the more points you score.

The closest I’ve been is 62km, somewhere in Poland. Generally on a five-go game I am averaging about ten thousand points, corresponding to about 2000km out on average. I usually get the right continent… I do NOT search for things on the real Google. I decided that is cheating, although my kidz don’t agree. Sigh… the look-it-up generation.

My main conclusion is most of the world is scrub, and the rest looks vaguely like Kazakhstan.

So who is up for making CosmoGuessr? It would be easy to knock up using the Google API. Or perhaps Jonathan Fay could add it to World Wide Telescope. Actually this is likely to be the most boring game ever, because of the Cosmological Principle. Everywhere looks the same on average. Bunch of random galaxies. You would at least spot when you were at low galactic latitude I suppose, by seeing all those pesky stars. In fact maybe to work it has to be GalactoGuessr, confined to the Milky Way. Even then, could be a bit dull. If you happen to land bang on the Eagle Nebula or whatever you’d be in there, but otherwise… It would basically boil down to estimating (l, b) from star density. Or am I wrong?

Meanwhile, you can play with billion stars on our zoomable Milky Way from UKIDSS and VISTA data. Still an unofficial feature of our archives at the moment, but I am sure we will realise it sometime… While I am plugging (relatively) new stuff, check out the UKIDSS coverage maps. You can browse them in Aladin. Many thanks to our CDS chums for pushing this through the IVOA. (Hope you like the new look web pages btw). Anyway, enough VO-ish meanderings.