The 3-d Sky: Stars in VRML

My friend Harry Bowman and I talked for a while about making a 3-dimensional map of nearby stars using VRML. Harry is an astronomy graduate student who used the Simbad database to get a list of nearby stars and computed distances for them; you can read his article about the astronomy. He handed me a list of stars and their locations in space which I turned into a VRML file with a Java program. Our completed 3-d map contains 2,093 stars within a distance of 25 parsecs from the Sun; it's big enough to tax the limits of today's VRML browsers. We've sorted the stars in order of importance (the average of the absolute and apparent magnitude) so you can look at a smaller model. Be warned, we've had the the full model crash our Macintosh running Live3D -- navigation is also faster with smaller models. We suggest that you start with the small models and try larger and larger models. With the small models most VRML browsers are fast enough that you can get cheap thrills from flying around. You can also see some screen shots, and read our credits. If you're interested in other applications of VRML in science you might want to see 3-d output from Matt's hysteresis simulation. You may also be interested in a a video fly through of the Pisces-Perseus Supercluster generated by the Cornell Theory Center as well as my crumpling research. Don't have a VRML browser? Vrweb is free with source code for Unix and Windows. Cosmo Player is a great plug-in VRML browser for Macintosh and Windows. The compressed version downloads faster, so try it first, if it doesn't work, use the uncompressed version.

100 stars with the sun marked yellow

Full-color versions

100 stars VRML 1
200 stars VRML 1
500 stars VRML 1
2,093 stars VRML 1


Copyright © 1997 honeylocust media systems, contact