Create your own tour of the Universe!

By Phil Plait | December 20, 2009 8:00 am

On Friday I posted about a video created by the NYC American Museum of Natural History taking you on a tour of the Universe.

I just received a note from Ben Oppenheimer, the Associate Curator and Professor at the Department of Astrophysics of the American Museum of Natural History (phew!), thanking me for linking to the video, but also noting that there is a lot more information available online about it, including background about the production, and his own blog.

But perhaps the coolest thing is that you can download their atlas — which has stars, galaxies, nebulae, everything — and use it to create your own fly-through of the Universe!

The software is not all that simple, but it can be used to create all sorts of tours of space. If you download it and make some, then post links to what you’ve done in the comments!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Cool stuff
MORE ABOUT: AMNH, Ben Oppenheimer

Comments (19)

Links to this Post

  1. Atlas Digital de l’Univers « Dr. Goulu | December 20, 2009
  2. CyberGi » Um passeio pelo Universo | December 20, 2009
  3. It’s a great, big universe! « Skepacabra | December 20, 2009
  1. Bob

    there’s always Celestia. you have to download and install an add-on to zoom out past the milky way but it’s a beautiful piece of open source software.

  2. Corey

    I want to see a flyby of some of Heinlein’s and Niven’s story lines. Where are the puppeteer planets and can we get a flyby to there, please? Where was Starman Jones when they missed that transition and came out in the middle of nowhere?

    Enquiring minds what to… see.

  3. m5

    …so Einstein says, “Oppenheimer? I just met her!”

  4. I suspect there’s no way to insert The Great A’Tuin into the Atlas?


  5. Cindy

    I second letting people know about celestia. It is an incredible free 3D software piece that lets you zoom around the solar system and many known objects. It is for adults, but my eight and six year old have spent countless hours learning their way around, following the path of satellites etc.

  6. Billingham

    Let me heartily second Celestia!

    The only downside is if you have a laptop without a full keyboard – it works better if you can use the number pad.

  7. Owen

    Oooh! They have it in not just Windows and Mac, but Linux and IRIX. That makes my day! I cannot wait to share it with my daughters! :)

  8. BoneheadFX

    “They have it in not just Windows and Mac, but Linux and IRIX.”

    And as an IRIX user this makes me quite happy. :) Definitely going to get that.

  9. Uh, why is there the “antiscience” tag? this seems like science to me.

  10. Has anyone mentioned Celestia yet? Oh, ok.

    Sometimes, when I’ve got a particularly good Cassini image in front of me, I’ll pop open Celestia and try and duplicate the shot. Combined with a few high-resolution models, the results can be pretty spectacular.

    HJ Hornbeck
    (Oh, and did I mention they have a wide range of *fictional* craft and planets available at the above link?)

  11. twilightened

    Actually, the software Phil suggests is a little bit complicated for a regular pc guy like me. Celestia on the other hand, is like a milky way objects explorer, it doesn’t give you the glimpse of how big is the galaxy, or the universe. I’ve suggested Mitaka for that reason. You should definately check out. It’s made by The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

    And if you still don’t know, Microsoft is developing something amazing, which is:

  12. Joe

    Celestia with the right data set will show you the same zoomed out view as the video. Since you can zoom and rotate it yourself, you can easily get sense of how the universe is 3d (and vast).

  13. Damon B.

    Digital Universe has a pretty high learning curve, but it can do some amazing stuff.

    Those of you that enjoy Celestia may also enjoy Stellarium, which is also very user-friendly, and works a little better as an Earth-based viewer. It’s very customizable down to location, time and date, and even constellation art.

  14. Arlo

    I love love love this video. Sadly, all my postings of it on social networking sites garnered 0 responses. That’s so depressing.

    One thing I’d love to have seen is where the Voyager probes are right now.

  15. Evan

    I took a course there years ago and they talked about the development of the database and all the things it can do. Really great. I must have downloaded this program in 2001-2002 and it was great to use then.


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