How do you create a cartographically accurate map of the known universe? You take heaps of astronomical data and animate it.
The American Museum of Natural History and the Hayden Planetarium have engaged in three-dimensional mapping of the Universe since 1998 as part of the Digital Universe Atlas. They created the animation below in partnership with the Rubin Museum of Art.
The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.
This latest animation of the known universe is below.
The opening credits read:
This film shows the known universe as mapped through astronomical observations.
Every satellite, moon, planet, star and galaxy is represented to scale and in its correct, measured location according to the best scientific research to-date.
The data is maintained and curated by research astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History as the Digital Universe Atlas.
This is one of those videos that I’d like to see in a dark theater with a huge screen. On a computer screen, it is still amazing.
Just after I published this post, I came across this quote, and I thought it would be an appropriate note to end on.
For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck away in an obscure corner … on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies. … That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that. -Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)
What is your favorite part of the animation of the known universe?