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Visualizing 100,000 Stars In Chrome

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the oh-my-god-it's-full-of-webgl dept.

Space 68

An anonymous reader writes "Google has rolled out a new web experiment for Chrome. This one is a visualization of the locations of over 100,000 nearby stars. It pulls data from astrometric databases and catalogs to show accurate relative locations of the stars. You can zoom and pan around the cluster, zoom all the way in to the solar system, or zoom all the way out to see how even this huge number of stars is dwarfed by the rest of the Milky Way. It also has data on a number individual stars in our stellar neighborhood. This web app works best in Chrome (much like their previous one, Jam With Chrome), but I was able to try it in Firefox as well."

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68 comments

What gives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985089)

This story isn't about Australia and there doesn't appear to be an Aussie connection?

Slashdot is really going to the dogs, when it ought to be about dingoes.

Re:What gives? (1)

12WTF$ (979066) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988947)

ninaninanina

We had a lovely total solar eclipse this week and you didn't get to see it...

Love and kisses
<3 XXX <3
Australia

100,000? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985135)

That's not that many stars.

Re:100,000? (2)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985233)

I wonder how many lightyears that covers?

Re:100,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41990563)

more to the point, what has this story got to do with Apple..? c'mon guys, slashdot is slipping.

Re:100,000? (4, Informative)

sanosuke001 (640243) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985287)

The HYG Database they linked to is enough stars; I used it at work to create a realistic star map for a geospatial visualization by mapping their spherical coordinates to a unit sphere and drawing in 3D (OpenGL) and using their magnitude and temperature for color/brightness.

The HYG Database is all the visible-to-the-naked-eye stars within 20 parsecs; when you say, "that's not that many stars" well, you can't see much more than that anyway so it's a good start.

Had Hollywood worried there for a moment... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985159)

...with a headline like that.

This is cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985205)

But I'm always wondering... As much as google has become to so many people, how long before they become a has been company like a certain large California based Internet portal, or like altavista, or even like a certain large OS maker who hasn't done anything decent in years? I'm hesitant to put my eggs in the google basket.

Re:This is cool (2)

Lennie (16154) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986269)

The good thing about Google is, it attracted many people from academia and other really smart people which try to do real research.

The bad thing is obviously: privacy.

Good try, but not as good as Celestia (4, Informative)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985207)

I played around with it a bit, but it seems to be somewhat lacking compared to Celestia, which does many of the same things and more. A couple gripes: Sirius was listed as Alpha Cassiopeiae, though it's Bayer designation is Alpha Canis Majoris. Also, it seems to be lacking nearly all of the red dwarfs that make up the majority of the solar neighborhood. Seriously? No Wolf 359?

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985223)

The Google engineer who developed this lost several descendants at the Battle of Wolf 359 you insensitive clod.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (4, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985269)

Google engineers don't have descendants.

Re: lost several descendants at the Battle of Wolf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985285)

You have never existed. And are now a new tiberium seed.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (2)

Rick Richardson (87058) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985291)

Celestia plays fine on my Mesa DRI Intel G33.  On Chrome I get: "Either your graphics card or your browser does not support WebGL".

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985293)

This runs in a browser. Celestia is a 32.8MB download.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

runeghost (2509522) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985361)

I can't get google's app to run in my browser, but if it's leaving out stars like Wolf-359 what's the point?

Sol Station has had similar functionality since 2001, and afaik doesn't leave anything out. Although the interface probably isn't as polished, it works just fine:
http://www.solstation.com/47ly-ns.htm [solstation.com]

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985439)

I was going to rebut with how large a download Chrome is, but they use some sort of non-standard install manager rather than a downloadable package. You also wind up downloading all of the application code and data to view the page anyway (even if the Javascript code for this is more compact than an executable (doubtful), the dataset is the big piece and that's coming down either way). Plus, the native app probably isn't going to suck down nearly as much CPU.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (2, Insightful)

number6x (626555) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985577)

What kind of dark ages operating system are you using? download managers?

sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

Worked for me.

What could be more standard than that?

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986063)

I don't know, something dark ages like Windows 7 perhaps. The Google Chrome download for Windows is a 755k stub installer that obscures the actual size of the whole product it downloads in the background.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989129)

... You do realize apt is a download manager, RIGHT? Not arguing your actual point, but your wording just shows your trying too hard.

People who use real OSes A) don't use the command line to install software 99% of the time, and B) are smart enough to know that Chrome is just the download manager for 'webapps' that run inside it.

Note: I'm not saying Linux isn't a real OS, just that your usage of it precludes your install from being one.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41989617)

It's a good thing that we all live by your definitions.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986091)

Yeah, but who doesn't have a webgl compatible browser these days? The latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari...even IE9+ should work, but I haven't tested that.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986627)

This runs in a browser. Celestia is a 32.8MB download.

You saying an browser app couldn't download 32.8mb of data while using it? Please, it could and would do that no problem. A lot of that 32mb happens to be the star data, something which instead of downloading all at once for quickness, you download as you go.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (2)

IonSwitz (609514) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985601)

When you try to get your non-science geek friends to understand why you think "space and stuff" is fascinating, it is a lot easier to point them to a web page like this, and have them goof around a but, rather then tell them "Download and install Celestia, it's a lot more accurate". Sometimes in the realm of non-geeks, accessibility trumps accuracy. This is one of the cases where the lack of accuracy don't really hurt that much.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986541)

Thanks a lot... now I'm getting 55kb/sec off of sourceforge :'(

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987995)

And as usual with Google apps, there is no scale on the map :-(

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

CodeheadUK (2717911) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989885)

I'm just glad there isn't an Apple Maps version.

Barnard's Star would probably be sitting between Jupiter and Saturn.

Re:Good try, but not as good as Celestia (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a year and a half ago | (#41990091)

It fits! Well, we'd have a closer star... 4ly is too far. Voyager is only 17 light hours from us

Circa 1993, Frontier did that in 720kb on a 386 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985243)

And now Elite:Dangerous is gonna do it again - check the Kickstarter campaign (bland fan promo) at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1461411552/elite-dangerous

Re:Circa 1993, Frontier did that in 720kb on a 386 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986099)

There is a big difference between a procedurally generated world that looks realistic and something that lists the actual positions of stars.

Re:Circa 1993, Frontier did that in 720kb on a 386 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986345)

Yeah, the stars have coherent positions that can be compressed really well, whereas the program that generates random stars has coherent instructions that can be compressed really well.

Re:Circa 1993, Frontier did that in 720kb on a 386 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986687)

Some real stars were represented realistically - but the premise was to just you know - post about Elite.

Re:Circa 1993, Frontier did that in 720kb on a 386 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41995157)

Elite did have real data for some nearby stars but it switched to entirely fictitious procedurally-generated star systems further out. Neat though, and yes this did remind me of Elite :)

Mindless ivory tower party tricks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985257)

The folks at Google seem more and more disconnected from real problems of real people. Not surprising given how they are setup.
I hope the EU's anti trust investigations puts an end to all the pointless yupie garbage. Hope they get them to open up their index so the world can start solving real problems with all that information that has been collected.
Simple example: Why cant I run code to get analytics on the top 100 results for a particular keyword in my locality? The fact that only 20 engineers sitting in Mountain View are allowed to execute that query is a disservice to humanity.

Re:Mindless ivory tower party tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986545)

You do realize, it's very unlikely that your trolling/shilling deters one Google user. While at the same time, it is very likely, that it reinforces many Google users. You're doing a very poor job.

Re:Mindless ivory tower party tricks (2)

halltk1983 (855209) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986607)

How dare they control the data they've spent so much to collect! If only there was some way for you to make your own search engine, and gather such results.

Re:Mindless ivory tower party tricks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988113)

It makes sense to open up the index. They currently have zero pressure to innovate on search. The only pressure they feel is on "social search" from facebook and twitter. And that has made them innovate eg Circles, Hangouts etc.
There are many other models for search - freebase/dbpedia, wolfram alpha etc. They can always rate limit/charge for access. Even possibly do an "app store" for search. Of course no such thing will happen cause like AT&T they have got to big and are now in "lets defend the empire" mode.

WEBGL vulns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985367)

I could google, but I'd rather trust a stranger's appraisal.

Is webgl relatively secure, relatively unexplored, or known insecure with unpatched issues?

no contact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985913)

Found Vega still no signs of life :(

Works better in Firefox (1)

Ossifer (703813) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985919)

for me at least. Chrome takes way more CPU on my Linux 64-bit machine.

Also, instructions say use mouse to pan, but mouse rotates--could not find out how to pan, so could never get close to anything but our own neighborhood...

Re:Works better in Firefox (1)

Lennie (16154) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986283)

Yes, these graphics things, like WebGL always work really well for me in Firefox on Linux at home. Strange enough, even better than on Windows at work.

Re:Works better in Firefox (1)

halltk1983 (855209) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986637)

Click on the other stars. That re-centers the map on the star you click.

Re:Works better in Firefox (1)

Ossifer (703813) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986731)

Thanks, that does help. But it only works for a handful of known stars in our neighborhood...

Performance (1)

Psicopatico (1005433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41986867)

Ok I know my computer is definitely sub-par graphic-wise by today standards, but the performance is atrocious.
And I'm talking about FPW (Frames Per Week) here.
FPS on the other hand (Fuck Per Second) is rather high though.

Oh, and the mouse wheel's zoom controls are reversed.

This is cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41986907)

And I at one point considered doing something like this with a modern browser - but nothing ever came of it (should'a would'a could'a - gotten off my lazy ass and tried).

Instead I found this:
http://www.haydenplanetarium.org/universe [haydenplanetarium.org]

If you want a standalone app for a star map, this seems like a good (and free!) place to start, and the db looks like something vaguely resembling an open licence (I admit I didn't read into it).

Here, I have a better idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987171)

Why don't you stop breaking the damn browser instead of doing crap stuff like this. Seriously for going back to Firefox for main again, and I REALLY don't want to do that.

Damn the most recent version is insanely laggier at anything even remotely animated. Choppy audio too.
Old version is completely fine, so don't even say it before you think it.

You can see things like Binary systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41987517)

Very fascinating.

I zoomed in on Polaris, You can see the binary stars orbiting each other and flares on the surface.

I can see this sucking up many hours.

Would love to hook this up to a robot telescope in the back yard. Where the laptop can direct the telescope and the telescope direct the laptop.

Re:You can see things like Binary systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41988617)

I'm surprised that this, coming from a search company, doesn't have an obvious search function in it.

Rev 2.0... (1)

braindrainbahrain (874202) | about a year and a half ago | (#41987969)

Very nice! Congrats Google. Now, for version 2.0, how about we add proper motion [wikipedia.org] of the stars along with some gravitational forces so we can see how the whole n-body problem [wikipedia.org] plays out. Let us zoon forward and backward in time!

Re:Rev 2.0... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989141)

Simple put, with out a cluster of computers or GPUs, you don't have the processing power for doing n-body simulations.

Ha ha, only serious (1)

scdeimos (632778) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988599)

Warning: Scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. Please do not use this visualization for interstellar navigation.

No more Chrome for me... (1)

SkyLeach (188871) | about a year and a half ago | (#41988973)

I never understood why Google Chrome chose to actually compile flash into their engine... until my Mac OSX 10.5 laptop was "depricated". Now it makes sense. There is a lot of money to be had forcing users to upgrade their OS because none of the software works any longer.

Firefox and Safari work fine and I'm able to download Flash updates, but Chrome no longer works without bugging me to death about Flash being too old. I literally have no choice but to manually enable each and every page every time one loads. As a Software Engineer I know there is no technical reason for this. As a business owner I know that there is almost no direct cost associated with allowing a user to use the external system flash instead of a compiled-in flash. In fact, the cost of ensuring successful build and delivery would be considerably higher when one must ship with a third-party product accounted for and shipped together with a binary distribution. Thus the only remaining reason is to help Apple convince users to upgrade.

I have a good bit more evidence that Google plays dirty against consumers, but I used to figure that it was just an inevitable symptom of becoming a big successful corporation and that at least their technology wouldn't suffer for it. I'm no longer convinced this is true.

Re:No more Chrome for me... (1)

Shinmera (2514940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989321)

I don't know about Mac, but on Linux, I can choose with flash plugin chrome should use. Have you checked your chrome://plugins/ page?

Severly limited... (1)

lfourrier (209630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41989695)

Warning: Scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. Please do not use this visualization for interstellar navigation.

So what? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about a year and a half ago | (#41990639)

There has been an app named "What'sUp" on the Blackberry Playbook tablets for more than one year that shows this and far more, allowing you for instance to point the tablet to the sky and show exactly which stars are in that direction at this time.

It's a classical example of using all the sensors (GPS, gravity and magnetic).

As far as I remember, nobody kneeled at the time.

Ah yes, it was not GOOGLE-branded. Sorry, mod me flamebait, quick, before thinking.

Link to the Blackberry App world: https://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/48561/?model=PlayBook&lang=en [blackberry.com]

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