Have a star map generating thing.

Over Easter, Spark asked if I'd write a program to generate an accurate skybox texture of the night sky for the Grit game engine. I did that, then I thought I'd develop the idea a bit further.

I used the starbox generator along with ImageMagick to make various animations like this one showing Orion being whirled around by his belt.

What if we could draw it like it was projected onto the inside of a sphere rather than on the faces of a cube? Then we could have an animation like this one, an animation of what the west of the sky looks like between 7pm and 7am on the night of 15th April.

Animation of the night sky
Animation of the night sky

Incidentally, these whirling globes look like what might be produced if a galaxy-wide broadcaster (which Jeremy suggested might be called the Beeblebrox Broadcasting Corporation) wanted to introduce a news programme. Of course, it couldn't work, because by the time a news report managed to travel at the speed of light to every part of the galaxy, the news would be tens of thousands of years old. So obviously you'd need regional news branding, like this one from a totally insignificant little blue-green planet...

Anyway. Silly animations aside, the point is I've made a star map generator. Give it your postcode and it shows you what all those bright twinkly bits in the night sky are.

The view out of my window last night.
Go to the star map generator

I've been adding things to it over the last few days, like the star and Messier object search feature, but for now I'm declaring it done. Of enormous help was the freely-available HYG star catalogue, the libnova C library and the Ordnance Survey postcode position data, CodePoint Open.