Avalon and a 3D Star Browser

As I previously mentioned, I’ve been experimenting with Avalon. As a toy application, I am developing a 3D star browser for our galaxy. The idea is to get the information for the stars from one of the scientific archives (SDSS or SSA) and display it in 3D. Last summer my student Rumesh Machap (the best advanced MSc. student I’ve ever worked with) developed a similar application using OpenGL but didn’t have the time to do the WS version of it. A screenshot of his work can be found in my “White Dwarfs” page.

So, I set out to do the same with Avalon and Web Services. The version I have now displays the stars from the personal version of the SSA (just ~5000 stars in the archive from the billions they have in the archive). In the next few days I will have the version that works with the SDSS archive over Web Services (SkyServer). The issues I want to look at relate to getting only the number of stars at a certain distance while moving around the galaxy, caching, etc. Should be fun.

I am currently experimenting/learning the 3D graphics capabilities of Avalon. On my laptop the animation (I am using a keyframe animation for the position of the camera) of the 5123 stars is really bad. But that may be a result of the 940 faces I used to represent a sphere :-) So, on to reduce the number of polygons per sphere :-)

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