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