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Using data produced by the Gaia astrometric satellite combined with exoplanets, dust, nebula, and hydrogen data from other sources.
199 backers pledged €17,337 to help bring this project to life.
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The first accurate and detailed map of the Milky Way galaxy project video thumbnail
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€17,337

199

Follow this project on Twitter at @galaxy_map

Help us create the first ever accurate and detailed 3D map of the Milky Way and get some exclusive rewards for your support! The map will be released under a Creative Commons license and will be available for scientific papers, for planetariums, for class rooms, for games, for film and television, and for anyone on the planet curious about our home galaxy.

Stretch goals

Going past our €7000 goal will allow us to purchase a graphics card with twice the originally planned video RAM (larger maps!) and potentially hire a Blender expert to help us with some of the materials. A larger amount will also allow us to return more to our backers!

€9000 (reached!)

For those backing at the € 75 level or higher, we'll ship a huge 36x36 inch (90x90 cm) limited edition map poster with room for more details.

€12000 (reached!)

For those backing at the € 75 level or higher, we'll include a booklet with information on the Gaia satellite and how the map was constructed.

Project details

Until recently, there has not been enough information to produce a detailed and accurate map of the Milky Way. The maps that were produced were either fictional or artistic impressions. That changed in April 2018, with the release of distances to more than a billion stars measured by the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Gaia satellite. 

A team of visualizers, Gaia scientists and researchers from the universities of Leiden (Netherlands) and Heidelberg (Germany) have been working together to create a galaxy map using a technique called density isosurfaces (previously mostly used for MRI scans in medicine) to convert Gaia star density data into 3D maps of the galaxy.

The 3D map can also be used to produce fly through videos such as this very early prototype on Youtube.

Gaia scientists have made several breakthroughs recently allowing a more detailed and complete map out to about 5 to 6 thousand parsecs (about 15 to 20 thousand light years), which would cover much of the Milky Way on this side of the galactic bar. The new map would include star clusters and hydrogen concentrations as well as many more dust clouds and nebulae.

However, we are now at a limit to our computing power. Producing a full map would require a more powerful graphics card and workstation than we currently have access to. Hence this Kickstarter. Once we have a more powerful workstation, it should take about a year to produce a revised map with help from several Gaia scientists.

The map would consist of a set of 3D meshes, a digital poster (with SVG source) and fly through videos. All of these would be released under a Creative Commons license.

In addition project supporters at the 25 euro level and higher will receive additional files that can be used for mugs, T-shirts and a beautiful wall calendar. Supporters at the 75 euro level will receive a limited edition printed poster.

Risks and challenges

This project has relatively few risks as the map generation algorithms and data sets required are well known. All that is needed is the extra computing power.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €25 or more About US$ 28

    Extra goodies

    Special digital files just for our backers: so you can produce mugs, T-shirts or a 12 month calendar with a different map object highlighted for every month.

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    49 backers

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge €50 or more About US$ 56

    Early access to map project results

    You will get access to early versions of the poster and video fly throughs.

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    15 backers

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge €1,000 or more About US$ 1,113

    Official sponsor

    Get your name on the poster and other materials as a major sponsor for the first real map of the Milky Way.

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    5 backers

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  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge €75 or more About US$ 84

    Printed Galaxy Map poster

    We'll commission a graphic artist to design a poster using the galaxy map, print it and ship it to you. The current plan is to ship an A1 (23.4 x 33.1 in) poster but it might be larger depending upon orders and your feedback.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 100 backers

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Funding period

- (60 days)