100 000 Stars
November 16, 2012
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Google launched a browser-based application called 100 000 Stars, a WebGL mechanism that allows viewers to visualise the scale of the galaxy. Using CSS3D and Web Audio technology in addition to WebGL, the project depicts the stars around the sun, as well as the sun’s position in the Milky Way galaxy. Users are able to zoom in and out, as well as manipulate the view and obtain more information on stars around the sun. As per its naming, 100 000 stars are depicted. The app runs without issue in Chrome and FireFox, although it does not run in Safari.
- Clicking on the play button gives the user a tour, while the graph button on the upper left will display the thermal properties of a star. The user can zoom in using the scroll bar on the right, or else with their mouse’s scroll wheel. Finally, a user may rotate the scene by clicking and dragging.
- Clicking on a star automatically zooms in on it, and displays a short summary of the star. Zooming in on the sun reveals a minor problem: the orbits of the planets in the solar system are depicted, but the sun disappears during the zoom out.
- The local group of stars viewed from another angle. I especially like the plane that glows on occasion: it gives the impression that one is on a space vessel when this is displayed, in full screen, on a big-screen TV.
- Some star systems consist of binary star, a star system consisting of two stars orbiting around their common centre of mass. Research between the early 19th century and today suggests that many stars are part of multiple star systems.
- Installing WebGL for Safari does not rectify the problem: in incompatible browsers, a video is played instead, instructing users to either use or install a WebGL compatible browser. Currently, Chrome and Firefox are guaranteed to be able to run this neat browser-application.
This project turned out to be a novelty that depicts this side of the galaxy in beautiful detail: while nowhere near as dedicated applications or massive as the real deal, it allows a user to turn their machine into a map of the local group of stars, and it’s certainly amusing enough for exploration.