EPO is researching various user interfaces and visual engagement approaches for non-specialists (middle school through undergraduate astronomy). One suggestion was to consider a tiling 2D or 3D platform. I’m curious as to what space visualization platforms you like best and why. Here are some links to get the discussion going:
I’ve commonly used Google Sky and Stellarium. The latter is quite nice, and plays well with planetarium software (in fact: some planetaria just use it directly).
Celestia was very nice for flying around and seeing the positions of things in 3D, but I didn’t find it to be as good for just looking at the sky.
For DES public data release interface (and also for DES collaboration tools) we are evaluating HiPS images and the Aladin Lite client. I just had an excellent telecon with Pierre Fernique from CDS about HiPS capabilities and usage. A good thing is that HiPS is being adopted and standardized by IVOA.
Here are some relevant links:
- The HiPS A&A reference article : http://arxiv.org/pdf/1505.02291v1.pdf
- The HiPS web site at CDS: http://aladin.u-strasbg.fr/hips/
Two alternatives to Aladin Lite client:
- Aladin Desktop (useful to better understand the interest of the HiPS in Fits tiles): http://aladin.u-strasbg.fr
- AladinDesktop/ESAsky - an implementation of Aladin Lite developed by the European Space Agency Center to provide access to their surveys: http://archives.esac.esa.int/esasky-beta
IVOA standardization process:
- HiPS discussions hosted in the Application Working Group: http://wiki.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/view/IVOA/IvoaApplications
- Last IVOA HiPS presentations: http://wiki.ivoa.net/twiki/bin/view/IVOA/InteropOct2015Applications (probably more information after Cape-Town IVOA May 2016 meeting)
We are also evaluating VisOmatic tools, here some reference links provided by E. Bertin
- Paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1403.6025
- iipsrv Fast-CGI: http://iipimage.sourceforge.net/documentation/server/
- Website/demos http://visiomatic.org
- L.TileLayer.IIP.js https://github.com/astromatic/Leaflet.TileLayer.IIP
- VisiOmatic interface https://github.com/astromatic/visiomatic
- iipsrv https://github.com/cmarmo/iipsrv
- STIFF software http://astromatic.net/software/stiff
Is it just ground based observation of the night sky or does it allow you to explore space freeform?
Ground-based night sky. But it does it very well.
I really enjoyed this paper!
A subtle, but important feature of their technology stack:
Note that using pixel rebinning instead of decimation (as in traditional astronomy image display tools) averages out background noise as one zooms out: this makes faint background features such as low surface brightness objects or sky subtraction residuals much easier to spot.
E Bertin et al did a great job in the visiOmatic tools! they really care about the quality of the image display - one of the nicest features is the “channel mixing” where the user can control the min and max levels of each channel, the gamma and contrast and the JPEG is generated on the fly and sent to the client. We had a demonstration of his tools recently, they look really really good, it is shame I didnt recorded it.