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Looking for a *3D navigable* star map.

  1. May 21, 2004 #1
    What I DO NOT NEED OR WANT!!!

    Star maps that show the locations of stars from any point of view on Earth.
    (I don't need to see views from Earth, already got plenty of resources for that. I need to be able to see what surrounding stars would look like if you were at or near OTHER stars.)
    I do not need "Stereoscopic" maps that "look" 3D.
    I don't need Star Wars like Games where you fly between various "real" stars, battling villains and racking up points as you go, with stunning graphics that look very impressive, but bare no resemblance to at all to actual distances between stars and the effects that has on what the view from Altair, Xsi Orion, or anywhere else would look like as viewed from those far off areas of space.

    WHAT I DO VERY *BADLY* NEED...

    Something along the lines of an upgraded or more capable version of a positively ANCIENT "shareware" program called "ORION".
    (A link to where this app can be downloaded is included below)
    For those unfamiliar with this truly incredible gem of a program...
    When you first start ORION you are presented with a completely 3D full perspective view of the surrounding starscape.
    Using controls for your "ship" you can turn to see the view in any direction. This is something PLENTY of programs will let you do...
    BUT!!!
    What THIS program allows you to do, that NO other program I've found to date will, is this-
    You can turn your "ship" so that, say Wolf 359, is centered in your cross hairs, hit the "thrust" button, and Holy Cr@p Batman! You're on your way to Wolf 359 passing through a fully 3 dimensional, full perspective, simulation of what that trip would look like, with far off stars like Betelgeuse barely appearing to move, while the closer stars you pass, like Sirius, wizz past on your right as you go by them.
    Not only that, but once you finally get to Wolf 359, you can now "turn your ship around" and see what Sol would look like as viewed from Wolf 359!
    From there you can pick another star, say Altair, and essentially "take a drive" from Wolf 359 to Altair.

    WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS PROGRAM
    For one thing, it makes EXCEPTIONALLY clear just how easy it is to get COMPLETELY lost wandering around in what is, relatively speaking, our own back yard. You VERY quickly learn to keep an eye on some of the brightest stars, like Sirius, that don't have the habit of fading from view on you.
    Drive around inside the starscape presented in this little gem of a program, and you VERY quickly get a MUCH more visceral and intuitive feel for what our local neighborhood is like proportionally speaking.
    (Apparently, our little star, Sol, is about smack dap in the middle of a kind of dandelion "poof" of stars, surrounded by a, not by any means empty, but certainly sparsely populated bubble of.. well.. not much.)
    This program gives you one HELL of an appreciation of, not only how far off a star like Betelgeuse is (You can travel 64 light-years(!) inside this "map" an 'ol Betel-Jay barely seems to move at all!), but also how INCREDIBLY bright that monster puppy's gotta be, considering that it barely dims at all no matter where you go.

    ORION'S LIMITS
    Hey, it's shareware. Shareware written way back in like the mid-eighties. So...
    All the stars are white; forget getting to know your way around by learning the colors of various stars.
    NOTHING is shown other than stars (with nine very fake planets around every star once you're close enough to see them). There are no nebulae of any kind to block or wash out your view of what's beyond. Earth doesn't even have a moon as I remember; neither do any of the other planets. There's no Asteroid Belt, no Kupier Objects, or Oort Cloud to be seen as you leave Sol, or approach other stars.
    Binaries like Sirius are depicted as single (albeit big and very bright) stars.
    Variables don't vary in brightness.
    And I'm absolutely sure that anyone with even a basic familiarity of real world astronomy could find MANY other faults.
    All of which I can forgive.
    The problem I personally have with it is simply this...
    You can only move a maximum of 32 light-years from Sol, and what I need to see is of the surrounding Cosmos as viewed from somewhere between Nihal and Mu Leporis (both of which lie beyond the 32 l/y limit of travel).

    Anyone aware of any fully 3D starmaps THAT YOU CAN DRIVE AROUND IN?
    Doesn't need to be free, or even cheap.
    I'd STRONGLY prefer a program that'll run on a Macintosh G-4. Though if push comes to shove I'm actually desperate enough to by a Wintel machine for absolutely no other purpose beyond running said program.
    (Please don't bother regaling me with the advantages of Wintel systems. I'm a hopeless Mac man that positively DETESTS having to use Wintel systems at the office.)

    A Link to where ORION can be downloaded for free is provided below (but please, if you like it, send a check to the intrepid soul who wrote it. That ain't me, or anyone I know, but the guy deserves the $15 or whatever he's asking you to pay him on nothing but the honor system).

    SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS TO RUN ORION
    Any Macintosh that'll run "System 6" through "System 9".
    Note: Newer Macs with early versions "System X" are capable of running "System 9" programs like this under what's called the "Classic Environment". I don't know if that's still true for the newer versions of System X like "Panther" et. al. but what the hell, the download's for free, and very tiny, so what have you got to loose?

    The link:
    http://www.projectrho.com/smap07.html

    Look about 2/3's of the way down this page for the words "Here is Orion, a Macintosh program in HQX format (about 61K)."

    And enjoy!

    Monsters
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2004 #2

    chroot

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    If you're advertising this software, this is not the appropriate place to do it.

    I suggest you download the Hipparcos catalogue. That data, plus about 10 minutes worth of coding in OpenGL, will give you the program you want.

    - Warren
     
  4. May 21, 2004 #3
    Celestia is also very nice (and free):

    http://www.shatters.net/celestia/

    I'm pretty sure it will do a lot of the things you mentioned. Works on anything: Linux, Windows, Mac OS X.
     
  5. May 22, 2004 #4
    I agree with TALewis. Celestia's one of the coolest free programs I've seen in a long time. Not only is it free, it's also only a 12MB dowload.
     
  6. May 24, 2004 #5
    Chroot;
    I'm sorry if my enthusiasm sounded like an ad, (and that's not to be taken as one of those sarcastic "sorry's" either, I mean it, really am sorry it came off that way.)
    What I was really trying to get across is EXACTLY what I like about this program, as well as the limitations it's got that have pushed me into a fairly exhaustive search for something ANYTHING with the capabilities I need.

    With re to: "I suggest you download the Hipparcos catalogue. That data, plus about 10 minutes worth of coding in OpenGL, will give you the program you want."

    Geese Chroot, there are times I really wish I had some kind of coding skills, but I really don't. "OpenGL", to me, is a mysterious term I vaguely remember seeing somewhere in the Control Panels or Extensions folders of the LAST Mac laptop I had that ran Sys 9.
    I wouldn't even know where to find something called "OpenGl" on my G-4, and frankly, turning ME loose with ANY kind of "coding software" would be a bit like handing a three year old a hand grenade and telling them to go figure out how it works.
    ;-).
    "Dammit Jim! I'm a writer, not a software engineer!"
    :-0
    Ask me how to work a fannybumper to attach the elements needed to break out a high concept tentpole with potential legs stuck in turnaround and take it over the hill before a ten after mid-night Pasadena by a wannabe Prodco skunks the mid against high six buzz on an otherwise hot naked spec and I'm your guy, but coding?
    EeeeeeEEESH!
    That's not a language I speak.
     
  7. May 24, 2004 #6
    To TALewis 'n check;

    WaaaHo Ho Ho HO! Check it the @#$! out! This looks SO cool! I'm DYIN to try this out!
    Gonna have to wait 'til this weekend to download it. At home I'm still stuck with a 56k line, and at the office, although they've got a "guaranteed full bandwidth T-1 line", the network has an unfortunate aversion to Macs. Ah - but my bubba Chuck's got a cable modem with an "Airport Hub", an that puppy'll suck down 12Mb faster than an attorney can run up fax 'n phone charges.

    A THOUSAND AND ONE THANKS GUYS!
    This is an absolutely HUGE help!
     
  8. May 27, 2004 #7
    Awesome! I am in need of this programme as well.

    Thanks for the link, TALewis. :)
     
  9. May 27, 2004 #8
    I hope it helps you out. Post back with your experiences -- it's a really neat app.
     
  10. May 29, 2004 #9
    NP Monsters. Have fun!
     
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