Saturday, October 22, 2022

Mapping in Time & Space

The ESA Star Mapper visualisation is an interactive map of the Universe. It allows you to explore in 3D 59,921 stars from the Hipparcos Catalogue

If you select the 'Motion' option at the bottom of the map you can view an animated visualiztion of how stars move through space. You can orient yourself on the map by turning on star names, the outline of the constellations, and/or a graticule of grid lines.

If you select the 'Explore' option you can also turn on star colors. The colours used are based on the Harvard Spectral classification OBAFGKM and relate to each star's surface temperature.

The area of the universe that we can observe from Earth consists of around 200 billion galaxies. You can also explore this observable universe on Google Sky. This interactive uses a Google Maps interface to enable you to explore the stars.

The Google Sky map is made up a mosaic of images of stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the Digitized Sky Survey and the Hubble Space Telescope.

You can explore a little closer to home on NASA's Your Galactic Neighborhood. This is a digital orrery which shows the real-time position of the planets in our solar system. Like a traditional mechanical orrery Your Galactic Neighborhood provides a model of the Solar System which shows the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons.

As well as visualizing the position of the planets and moons Your Galactic Neighborhood shows the real-time position of some of NASA's spacecraft. For example you can see the current position of the Parker Solar Probe, which is on target to pass through the Sun's atmosphere closer to the Sun's surface than any spacecraft before.

If you select a planet or moon on NASA's digital orrery you can view a 3D model of the planet. This close-up view includes information on the planet, its moons and distance from the sun. It also includes a link to NASA's dedicated page on the selected planet.

NASA don't seem to have a direct link to its digital orrery. To access Your Galactic Neighborhood you need to click on the small animated solar system graphic in the header of NASA's Solar System Exploration website.

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