Educational? Fun? Both? Welcome to Space Engine. A 3D model of….life, the universe, and everything. Here we are at earth. Home, if you will, and lets go! Where? How about the Andromeda Galaxy? You can see it in the picture above, right where it is supposed to be.
Here we are, some 2.5 million light years from earth. All the “stars” in this picture are actually galaxies. The graphics of getting here were straight out of Star Trek as we zipped along at some incredible speed that would make poor Einstein’s head swim. Way past the speed of light. It took us about 5 seconds to get here. Now we are here so lets go a hunting. Where no man has gone before.
A couple of planets from the Andromeda Galaxy. These pics were taken with the internal camera, and not retouched. But hey, some made up procedural planet surfaces, while graphically as astounding as Second Life, ain’t all there is. So pick out your favorite space sight, and head off to have a visit. The Orion Nebula. Compare with NASA, ok, it isn’t perfect, but it’s there. Exactly where it is supposed to be.
The whole thing just blows me away. Maybe its the trekie in me, but flying around the universe exploring real space objects (according to NASA) is a great way to spend an hour or two, yes? It’s a bit hard to find some things if you do not understand the various naming systems so you can know what to search for, but once you beat back that learning curve, you can go there, see that, take a picture. My favorites? Star clusters. Oh, and simply flying at warp 10 in any direction. One last look. From an frozen world in a star cluster over 17 billion light years from Earth.