Google Open Sources Sky Maps in Collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University

Back in 2009, when Android phones were not that powerful in hardware, there were very few apps as interesting as Google Sky Maps. Google Sky Maps was one of the best 20% projects at Google. However, the app always stayed a part of the 20% projects, and failed to gain popularity. It was launched in May 2009 for Android phones, and has been an astronomy-enthusiast’s favorite app. Our in-house science-geek Debjyoti speaks of Google Sky Maps as

The ancients have got to be jealous; you can now see the map of the entire Universe on your android phone, thanks to Google Sky Map.

Seeing stagnant growth for years, Google has decided to stop working on Google Sky Maps, and donate the app to the Carnegie Mellon University for further development. This is a welcome move in that they did not decide to kill it instead.


At Carnegie Mellon University, Google Sky Maps will be developed as a series of student projects. This will give students something to boast of, as well as ensure development of this stagnant product. Google Research blog announced this news, saying,

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.

This has sparked an intriguing discussion on Slashdot, on whether we can rely on 3rd-party cloud services for creating our applications. With Google withdrawing many of its services like Picnik and Needlebase, there is no guarantee that other providers will find it necessary to make their services available continuously. Only if you are lucky enough, like in case of Google Sky Maps or App Inventor, Google makes them open source and available for further development. However, if the services fails to gain popularity, Google decides to kill it with a few months’ notice, and those few months is all you have to shift base, in case you have based your business around that service.

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Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.