Google Brings Open Source to the Sky – Why Now?

Google Code DefaultFrom the ‘Look Up’ files:

One of the very first things that I ever downloaded onto my Android phone was Google Sky. It’s fantastic app the lets you just point your phone at a section of the sky to see a map overlay of the stars/constellation above.

It’s also a project that is now going open source under the name – stardroid.

For thousands of years, astronomers have shared maps of the sky and it’s only fitting that Google has decided to open source their tool. Google’s decision though isn’t about altruism though, the way I see it, it’s more about Google offloading – yet another project – as they continue to trim what used to be Google Labs to nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that stardroid being open source is a great thing, but why now? This app has been around for at least three years? Google is just trying to cut their costs here, aren’t they?

In any event, the project is going to be driven forward now together with Carnegie Mellon University.

“Sky Map’s development will now be driven by the students, with Google engineers remaining closely involved as advisors,” Google Engineers wrote in a blog post.

Don’t forget, Google has also done the same thing to the Google Body Browser too – given it to open source. Open Source is the right place for these projects and it’s better for the community at large, but let’s not forget why Google is doing this now, and no it’s not primarily driven by a genuine desire to further open source, but rather as a way to offload projects they no longer want to maintain.


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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