In May 2009 we launched Google Sky Map: our “window on the sky” for Android phones. Created by half a dozen Googlers at the Pittsburgh office in our 20% time, the app was designed to show off the amazing capabilities of the sensors in the first generation Android phones. Mostly, however, we wrote it because we love astronomy. And, thanks to Android’s broad reach, we have managed to share this passion with over 20 million Android users as well as with our local community at events such as the Urban Sky Party.

Today, we are delighted to announce that we are going to share Sky Map in a different way: we are donating Sky Map to the community. We are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in an exciting partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects. Sky Map’s development will now be driven by the students, with Google engineers remaining closely involved as advisors. Additionally, we have open-sourced the app so that other astronomy enthusiasts can take the code and augment it as they wish.

The Google Sky Map team would like to thank all of our users who have taken the time to send us comments over the past 3 years. You tell us that Sky Map has helped you show off your phone, enabled you to see the stars when the urban light pollution or weather obscured them and even find romance! The feedback that touched us most though can be summarized by this short email:

“sat down with my son and looked around at the planets for about 45 minutes...time well spent, thanx”