View Full Version : November Entry: Dont Panic !

11-04-2008, 07:18 AM
For now this is a bit of a place holder (bucking the trend of gaussian distributed winning entries last month ;) ). I know what I would like do but its a bit audacious and I am not even sure how to go about doing it.

I have some pics on my HD from Zaon Studios (www.zaon.com) and on their old web site used to be this huge poster sized galactic map. Well its the most awesome space map ever. Its truly drool inducing. It looks like it was done on some high end app like Maya or something too. So I have some pretty high standard base line example to ref. Their current web site has some stuff on it like some great planet renders - it gives you an idea of the standard going on there. Does anyone here have the poster or the books ?

So I would like to try to do a sector map of a galactic region plotting the star systems only (planets being too small for this one) and their 3D space relation to each other with star names and paths from them all.

To do that by hand would be well tedious as I want hundreds of stars all named in the cluster. So what I would like to do is make a script or program to generate the positions randomly and then adjust them for some basic physics and try to allocate them types like red giants or red dwarfs etc.

The first problem I thought I would have would be names for all of these. What I did was look up some name generators and found a few. Some are algorithmic and some others had lists of peoples names in various languages like Swahili and Celtic etc. These weren't bad but that idea plus remembering that our current stars are named with Arabic stuff led me to download an Arabic dictionary. I munged them about, knocked out the diacritics, removed spaces and dumped all words less than 5 chars long and then randomized it. The names in there are pretty good and look like the Aldebaran, Canopus, Arcturus etc things so I think thats sorted now.

My next dilemma is what app to use as I want to make this map big so that its possible to read all the names. I could use ViewingDale but this would be a 3D map of the stars. I can either do it in 3D with Blender or LWave or artificially flatten the view to 2D and go with ViewingDale. The other issue is whether to go with vector or raster for this one. Ideally I would go with Blender but I don't know the app well enough yet to get all the stuff the way I would want it. Right now I am leaning towards getting the star program script to write an image magick script which when I run that will create the star systems and all the link up data and then import to VDale for finishing. The other idea I might try is to get the star script to write out a giant .obj file for the stars and load that into blender and render that and take the result into VDale for finishing. That would be better but more risky I think.

The other issue is that this could be a bit of a time sink and I am supposed to be doing other stuff as well. :?

11-04-2008, 12:30 PM
I have decided to use an image of M81 from APOD as my base and probably unnamed galaxy. This will be just an icon where the map is a sector within that galaxy showing all the stars in that sector.

I want to have a galactic plane with the stars shown above and below with the angle and "height" above the galactic plane. i.e. cylindrical coords. Now with this being the 75th century etc do you think we would have decimalized by that time and have 100 degrees in a circle ? And although we have AU's in our solar system would another galaxy still use light years and parsecs ? or something else. In fact I don't even know if this map is one to be read by humans or not. Maybe its an alien translation to human map or vice versa.

Now I just have to re-watch "live organ transplants" to remind myself what scale we will be approximately at... :)

11-04-2008, 02:01 PM
Been doing a little experimenting with sectors. It turns out that if we go with 100 angular segments and the bit to be mapped is on the edge then the space is very nearly cubic. As you get towards the center your angles have to increase obviously but in the center I would expect that you would change coord system to spherical since a) thats the arrangement b) the gravity there would be so immense that it would be hard to travel there and c) there would be zillions of stars there so its more of a cartographers problem than one of navigation.

So the coord system will be 100 angular units per circle and I will map 1 of them. Radially our milky way is 50,000 light years. The outer band in the image below is at 1/10th of the radius so for milky way thats 5000 light years.

List of closest stars..
... means that we should have stars at about 15 light years apart or so. That means 5000/15 is 330 or so which is clearly too many to map (330x330x330)

(BTW that page has a diagram just like what I want to make but doing just a sector instead of a whole circle.

So as anyone who has star charts know they list only the brightest stars not all of them. What we would need would be the most relevant. This would mean those with inhabited planets, systems with planets possible to live on, or ones having a solid surface etc. You also need those which are big, bright and those which present a danger. We also need to mark on there outposts and non natural satellites.

So in the list of top 20 closest stars only 5 of them are of magnitude 5 or below but were still waaay off mapability.

Here is a great link to a web site with nearest stars in a 5000ly redius - perfect....
... except that it looks like clouds.

So either we need to map a whole lot less than 1/100th of the circle or we have to be far out on the rim of the galaxy or the galaxy has to be less dense or less compact than the milky way.

Might have to fudge it a bit and pic something conveniently out on the rim to give just the right density of star systems with interesting enough properties to map.

This is always the problem with astro stuff. The numbers are always just too big. I wonder if Torstan is going to do a map... now that might get interesting.

11-04-2008, 02:53 PM
Thinking about it :) I'm a particle rather than astro person so I'm actually almost as in the dark about this as the rest of you. However I do share an office with people working on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey - probably the largest space map ever made - so I might well tap them for ideas.

Just one note on your thoughts on units - light years are a sensible measure of distance as light is the only thing with a constant speed in the universe so measuring distances by the time that light takes to travel is a sensible choice. Obviously the concept of 'year' is the thing that would change.

11-04-2008, 03:39 PM
I was reading somewhere today that there are 6 septasqillion or whatever stars and the size of the universe is such and such and that therefore one divided by the other means that you get an average of 70 stars per lightyear cubed which is obviously very high. Knowing also that we are in a galaxy and that the distance between galaxies is vast then that implies that the number of stars in the center of a galaxy must be just extreme - astronomical in fact. So I gather that the white ball around the center of galaxies is just packed with stars in a very small space.

You have mentioned before that in black holes the gravity is so great that your head and feet get ripped apart from gravity gradients. If there are that many suns packed close enough together then presumably that same effect is true - or lets be more real, the distance across a star ship capable of getting to the center of a galaxy must have a considerable gravity gradient across it.

My question is: where approximately on the swirling disk of a galaxy is the gradient so great that its unlikely that a tough starship hull could possibly withstand the gravity gradient ?

Thats what I was getting at with the change from polar to spherical coords near the middle because I doubt any ship could go there. Even if the tech was around to create an artificial gravity field I would imagine that would take energy to do it and the energy consumption would be more than that of the capability of the ship.


11-04-2008, 04:32 PM
I'm a UK person in the US so I'm just a fascinated observer. I'll let the actual Americans answer the US electoral questions :)

Interesting question about the gravity gradients. I'd be surprised if you get much in the way of serious tidal forces outside of the central black hole's immediate vicinity. There are a lot of stars, and so gravity will be much stronger - but in freefall - ie when you are out in space - its only the difference in gravity between two points that makes a difference rather than the absolute value of gravity at a point. It needs to be changing pretty fast for that to have a significant effect and I'd guess that only something as exotic as a black hole will have those sorts of gradients in its vicinity. I know that's awfully hand wavy. If I get a chance I'll have a look at getting you something more precise.

11-04-2008, 04:41 PM
I know that's awfully hand wavy

Hocus Pocus!

11-04-2008, 08:20 PM
Shazam! Political OT posts moved to their own thread...

-Rob A>

11-05-2008, 11:23 AM
Yes good call ! That diversion was getting a bit out of control. Back to the map !

11-05-2008, 12:20 PM
Yes good call ! That diversion was getting a bit out of control. Back to the map !

Sorry for the thread derail. I was trying to figure out how to split the post up at the same time Rob completed it.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing how this works out. Did you say you were going to us Blender for this? Or is your knowledge level just not up to snuff there yet?

11-05-2008, 01:27 PM
Did you say you were going to us Blender for this? Or is your knowledge level just not up to snuff there yet?Actually I dont know at this stage. My thread is titled Dont Panic after Hitchhikers obviously but I have to say I am starting to panic !

I did some tests on blender and I can write out an obj file in perl but it doesnt handle text very well. ViewingDale handles text easily but its 2D. I also looked at POGL which is a perl based OpenGL interface and thats easy to use but... actually ill spare you details... but it looks like its not going to do more than screen sized unless I can figure some more stuff out on it - but that would be a good way of doing it. Then I thought that maybe perl writing image magick instructions would be good like the thumbs script is doing. That could draw all of these stars... I dunno still. Right now I am leaning to Perl generating a big ViewingDale file but with some extra stuff done in blender which I will composite into the scene. What would be ideal is if I can render stuff in blender and also have the transform for its camera to 2D so that I can do stuff in 2D at the same time and the coords would line up. Thats not easy tho.

11-05-2008, 08:08 PM
Dont worry - not gone completely doolally. Were testing whether the thumbnail generator does animated thumbs...

Edit -- Actually I know it wont currently. But I might be able to check if its a gif and maybe even if it has more than one frame to it. I'll see if I can botch it into the thumb script code.

11-06-2008, 08:01 PM
Thumbs are now GIF aware ! Basically, all images get converted to PNG type thumbs except GIFs which stay the same even if they don't animate.

11-08-2008, 06:06 PM
Guys, I have a WIP which id like any C&C's on please. Its not necessarily finished yet - I can tweak a lot of it. Its totally scripted so I haven't so much as brushed a single line so I can make wide ranging changes to this I think.

This is going to be the center illustration on a info panel on a ship deck so ill add some more border to it and more information about the places but just from the point of view of the galactic sector information how does this sit ?

Its a big map so I have the overall view and a close up. Ill post the full thing at the end. I knew it would be big and complex which is why I went for a scripted solution. I used Perl Magick and added a 3D layer to the API so that I can call all the primitives in 3D - which took a while to set up and get going but its great now if a little hard to understand the set up of it.

Anyway - looking for any comments. More stars ?, Less ? Brighter ? Bad font choice ? etc

### Latest WIP ###

joćo paulo
11-08-2008, 06:32 PM
I feel like this is perfect.

Map realistic three-dimensional space.

11-08-2008, 06:42 PM
I think the concept is fantastic! It would be great as part of a large composite like you have in mind.

11-08-2008, 08:25 PM
Very impressive. I like the 3D effect. As soon as I saw it I had a bunch of questions run through my head...specifically: How and/or why is the galaxy plane where it is? I was thinking of that in the making of my map; the Z coordinate is 0000.00 where the "selected" planet/system is. Bah it is hard for me to decribe...

Anywho a map that can make ya think is a good one!

11-08-2008, 08:56 PM
Firstly, why is there a galaxy plane at all ? I dont know the exact physics answer but I know its to do with it having a low energy state. I assume that when stuff has movement (kinetic energy) in random directions and in space with gravity then everything starts to orbit. I am guessing that collisions occur removing energy of the system from some directions until you have an overall moderately stable system. I know that if all the orbits were in a spherical bound then they can lose energy and keep orbiting by flattening out. I cant remember why exactly tho - something about angular momentum and stuff like that. So galaxies tend to go flat - especially at the edges.

So this map being on the outer rim of the galaxy is sorta flat and I have chosen to use cylindrical coords to map sectors. So the first number is the rotary value, the second is the radial value and the third is the Z height from the plane. Since this one is 000 then its the one on the plane so this sector has the plane going right through it. I have arbitrarily chosen it to be in the middle. I am guessing that like the earth is not perfectly spherical the galaxy does not have an exact plane either though I would think that with the number of stars present then a really precise figure of where that abstract plane lies could be determined.

11-08-2008, 09:11 PM
I had thought about doing something like this but didn't know where to start so I'm glad you are doing it ;) Nice job and of course I love the concept. Can I issue a fatwah to see the Fatwaa system mapped? :)

Steel General
11-08-2008, 11:05 PM
Cool idea...

Personally wouldn't add to many more stars, or maybe just more "un-named" ones, and I think the fonts are fine (a bit small on the first map - but still readable for the most part)

11-09-2008, 11:56 AM
A bit more - looking like the final now but I still have a bit more to do. I want a close up of the star base and maybe the mentioned nebula. Also I wanted to get in the image of the whole galaxy and where this map fits on it.

### Latest WIP ###

11-09-2008, 12:58 PM
Actually, you cant see anything on that last one. This one has a few updates but is bigger. Even this one tho is 20% of full size. I am doing this at 36x24 300dpi in case there's a remote chance of printing...

Edit -- By the way, the full size 8192x12288 which is in fact higher than 36x24 at 300dpi in PNG is 30Mb not the 200+ that was suggested. Obviously this image has a lot of solid color but is pretty representative I think.

Steel General
11-09-2008, 02:59 PM
Cool stuff RR! Think you may have a typo - "GLANDING"

11-09-2008, 04:52 PM
Cool stuff RR! Think you may have a typo - "GLANDING"

I took "Glanding' as some sort of innuendo pertaining to sexual activities ;) Just cause we on Earth engage in sexual copulation, doesn;t mean other species are limited to sexual or asexual reprodution. Some species may require 3 or more participants to procreate, and would we as Humans even know what another species sexual act looks like? ;)

Just some random thoughts :P

11-09-2008, 05:31 PM
Isn't that 'Good Landing' in Australian?

11-09-2008, 08:43 PM
Ahh yes... that might need some explanation :D I read quite a few Iain M Banks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Banks) books which deal with far future sci-fi and a highly advanced humanoid species called the Culture. These individuals have advanced genetics to the point where they have some body modifications and included in these are drug glands where they can imbibe or self generate a variety of drugs to aid in performance.


So its not a typo, it means that you are not allowed to be intoxicated (stoned) out of the recreational areas where it might have safety implications.

This info-panel is a dynamic flat screen type touch panel where it gives latest information. I reckon that you could touch the screen and select different info and drag that cube about for the 3D view. The time and date should be continuously updating and it probably runs information and advertising all the time.

The glanding is not a sexual thing specifically but Iain Banks has some interesting ideas on that too. In the culture you can choose to have a sex change and it takes a while (cant remember exactly how long but a few months at least) to grow a new set of organs. So in his books a male character might be female by the end of the book. Also the recommendation is to change sex at least a few times and have some children whilst being female. Some of the characters dont like the idea and choose not to change. Also, there are some times when surgical robots amputate limbs or swap limbs with other people for recreation too. Its a bit bizarre but thats the thing I like most about his books is that he really goes right out there and extrapolates wildly about what might happen with a significantly advanced technology and how these might manifest themselves.

11-10-2008, 06:26 PM
Added the nebula, the star base in classic Halo fashion :) and the original galaxy icon showing where this sector is - although it would be a box much smaller than shown I think.

I whooped up the Halo ring in no time getting a nice background from Nasa again. Those spoddy astronomers might recognize the Orion Nebula and I have put my star where Trapezium is. I used my Instant islands to get some terrain for the inside of the ring and rendered it with light wave cos I chickened out of Blender again ! It was fun doing this pic tho.

All the bits are composited in ViewingDale and then rendered out at 8Kx12K image which looks nice though these on the web are 1/4 res in each direction for size reasons.

I am pretty much done now. I am really pleased with this one. Often I don't put much effort into my challenges but there was some sweating going on in this one to get the effect I wanted and I think I got all that I imagined.

Any critiques at all ? I still have plenty of time to fix up anything that anyone thinks is not quite right about it.

### Latest WIP ###

11-10-2008, 06:38 PM
Whoops I have spotted a typo :o I'll fix that for next time.

11-16-2008, 03:36 PM
It looks lovely! (your entry is fast becoming one of my favourites).

My suggestions: Give it some branding, it looks commercial so put some nifty logos in. Perhaps one to the right of the 'Commercial Area 14' text.

Not sure if the text indents in the purple box are intentional but they look a bit odd. Might be worth putting in (more branding) a semi-transparent vector image behind the text in a lighter purple to give the area more interest.

I'm not sure if this is meant to be a poster or an image on a VDU. If the former, it might be fun to see it in some sort of context with other posters around it etc. If the latter, it might be fun to give it a more glassy type look.

Just ideas off the top of my head.

11-16-2008, 07:57 PM
It looks lovely! (your entry is fast becoming one of my favourites).Thanks, I am pleased with how its come out. I was worried that it wasn't going to be anything like I wanted.

My suggestions: Give it some branding, it looks commercial so put some nifty logos in. Perhaps one to the right of the 'Commercial Area 14' text.Ok thats a good idea. Its sorta loosly based on Trek TNG styling. I am pretty sure they had the ole star fleet logos on theirs too.

Not sure if the text indents in the purple box are intentional but they look a bit odd. Might be worth putting in (more branding) a semi-transparent vector image behind the text in a lighter purple to give the area more interest.Yes I am not sure about the indents either. What would have been better would have been spaces between the paragraphs instead but then the text would have to be smaller to do it. Perhaps I should just left justify and be done with it. I think the backgorund purple would indeed be more interesting with some watermarking type thing going on. Ill look into that.

I'm not sure if this is meant to be a poster or an image on a VDU. If the former, it might be fun to see it in some sort of context with other posters around it etc. If the latter, it might be fun to give it a more glassy type look.Its an image on a poster sized VDU which is on the wall next to the windows in a recreational area like 10 forward of Enterprise. The VDU thing is like a giant iPhone nailed to the wall. As a tourist and cargo transporter the ship makes scheduled trips around a ring of star systems. So this area is a lounge with a bar, tables, eatery and maybe some entertainment. I was thinking of roughing out a 3D environment and showing it placed then I could get some reflections in the screen. That would help I think. Theres probably enough time to do it.

Just ideas off the top of my head.Yeah thats great. There hasn't been a lot of comment. I don't know if people love it or hate it. This is actually my first ever sci-fi map ! I am finding it a little easier in the art side of things what with the straight lines and clean curves. Unlike fantasy where you actually have to do some real drawing which I can't do as well as some guys here.

I'll see if I can incorporate some of those ideas. I am a bit sunk into Galrions map for a while tho.

11-20-2008, 01:42 PM
I am not sure I can add much to the discussion here, other than damn that is extremely well done. You might want to tone down the travel line of the ship by altering the color some. As it is it seems a but too dominant (even though it is one of the main focal points).

11-20-2008, 01:47 PM
Thanks and ill do something about that line. Its me being lazy again and reusing my little widgets from my Thrub map. I can make them smaller too and put more in - a finer dashed line.

11-20-2008, 06:27 PM
Fixed minor typo, put in a natty logo, got shot of the indents, thinned up the dotted navigation line and put in a nifty math spike thingy backdrop on the text. Took a while to render that even on Blender as I set it for reflection and it was 8K wide since this map is about 8Kx12K.

Probably my last WIP as I cant think of anything else I could do to it.

### Latest WIP ###

11-23-2008, 07:44 PM
Had a family member look at my map. I said it was kinda based on the Star Trek Look and he said there was a name for it. So get gets his Star Trek reference manual out... (no need to say anything at this point)

So (apparently) my map is based on the LCARS GUI model... so there - now you know. Now I know at any rate. Had to look it up, naturally, and came across this.


and there's pages and pages of stuff like this. A whole Gnome Desktop GUI based on it and everything...

I think my handful of tourist words in Klingon doesn't get me into star fleet.

I would mention the new film with Kirk & Spock but the last time I went off at a tangent the whole thread needed CL attention. But if & when anyone's actually seen it then tell me whether it is a thumbs up or not ?

11-23-2008, 10:38 PM
I'm pretty familiar with the LCARS interface designs...and I didn't make a connection with your map.

About the only LCARS thing is the curved lead in bar.... and not that much.

-Rob A>

11-23-2008, 11:41 PM
Bleah (not yours RR; yours is actually reasonably clear and reminds me of the in-universe magazine that came with the original Wing Commander). Navigating LCARS is like trying to navigate Windows using the periodic table of elements. I'd go blind after a week of using that kind of interface.

11-24-2008, 02:52 PM
I think I must be last to know about this stuff then. :!:

I have no idea whether it is like LCARS or not. I did it from memory with that curvy bit which was a deliberate nod to the Star Trek panels - mainly cos I have lost all my ingenuity to come up with something new.

The heights above and below the plane were ripped from the ole Elite game but I see that system being used a lot in various charts now. When animated in real time you could roll and pitch the ship and actually navigate your ship using those lines. I even did a search on google for the name generator for the planets that Elite used too - that was another inspired bit of programming. All the planet names were algorithmically made and some sounded really cool.

I never made it to Elite tho. I think I got to 'Dangerous' and realized I needed to shoot down a zillion more of those round ships - forgotten what they are called now - in hyperspace which was indeed pretty tricky.


They have images there on that wiki link but none show the head up display radar with a significant bar over the flight plane. Nach.