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 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.