Friday, February 19, 2010

Check Out the Celestia

Celestia is a 3-D astronomy program created by Chris Laurel. The program is based on the Hipparcos Catalogue (HIP) and allows users to travel through an extensive universe, modeled after reality, at any speed, in any direction and at any time in history. Celestia displays and interacts with objects ranging in scale from artificial satellites to entire galaxies in three dimensions using OpenGL, from perspectives which would not be possible from a classic planetarium or other ground based display.

NASA and ESA have used Celestia in their educational and outreach programs, as well as for interfacing to trajectory analysis software.
Celestia is available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. Released under the GNU General Public License, Celestia is free software.

Celestia users can travel/fly through the Celestia universe using simple keyboard controls, at any speed from 0.001m/s to millions of light years/s. Viewpoints can be set to look forward, backward or at any angle to direction of travel. Controls allow users to orbit stars, planets, moons and other space objects, track space objects such as spacecraft, asteroids and comets as they fly by, or travel to and/or fly through nebula and irregular, elliptical and spiral galaxies (over 10,000 galaxies included).

The time simulated by Celestia can be set at any point in the future or past, although planetary orbits are only accurate within a few thousand years of the present day, and date arithmetic overflows at the year 5874774.

The names and positions of multitudes of objects in space can be displayed, from galaxies, star clusters, nebula, constellations and stars to planets, moons, asteroids, comets and artificial satellites, as well as the names and locations of cities, craters, observatories, valleys, landing sites, continents, mountains, seas and other surface features.

Celestia displays such features as detailed atmospheres on planets and moons, planet shine on orbiting satellites, sunsets and sunrises, moving clouds, planetary rings, eclipse and ring shadows, constellation lines, borders and illustrations, night-side lights, detailed surface textures, specular reflections off water and ice, nebula gases and star flares.

Information about the objects that Celestia draws can also be displayed: the radius, the distance, length of the sidereal day and average temperature of the planets are shown and the distance, luminosity relative to the sun, spectral class, surface temperature and radius of stars are indicated.

The user can change Celestia's field of view from as wide as 120 degrees to a highly magnifying 3.4 seconds of arc, while dividing the window into multiple panes, in order to observe several objects at the same time and including Light time delay if desired.

Graphic screen-shots and movies can be captured in classic or HD resolutions (up to 1920x1080) on Windows and Linux platforms.

Celestia's support for game pads and joysticks is relatively limited, employing many keyboard shortcuts instead.

Celestia can be extended with new objects and there are hundreds of third-party, user-created add-ons available for installation, both fictional and realistic. The extension mechanism uses Lua as its built-in scripting language. Educational lessons and computer lesson plans are available.

After a default install Celestia displays the Hipparcos Catalogue (HIP) of almost 120,000 stars. Celestia uses the very accurate VSOP87 theory of planetary orbits. This makes it possible for it to provide a Solar and lunar eclipse finder and to display the orbital paths of planets (including extrasolar planets), dwarf planets, moons, asteroids, comets, artificial satellites, and spacecraft. The user can vary the number of stars that are visible on the screen and have them drawn in different styles.

About 18 gigabytes of extensions are available in addition to the base program, produced by an active user community.

High resolution surface textures are available for most solar system bodies, including Virtual Textures with complete coverage up to 32768 pixels wide (1.25 km/pixel at the Earth's equator), with selected coverage at higher resolutions. This allows very close views of the Earth, Mars and the Moon. Many 3D models of historical and existing spacecraft are available flying in reasonably accurate trajectories, from Sputnik 1 and Voyager 2 to the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station, as are extended data plots for stars (2 million with correct spatial coordinates). DSOs (nebulae, galaxies, open clusters etc), as well as catalogues of thousands of asteroids and comets and more than 96,000 locations on the Earth can be drawn by the program. Add-ons also include extensive space objects such as red and blue supergiants, red and brown dwarfs, neutron stars, spinning pulsars, rotating black holes with accretion disks, protostars, star nursery nebula, supernova and planetary nebula, galactic redshifts, geological planetary displays (e.g. - 3-D interiors, topographic and bathymetric maps, ice age simulations), planetary aurora, rotating magnetic fields, animated solar flares and prominences, 3-D craters and mountains, and historic collision events. All can be visited via the Celestia travel interface. All stages in the life cycle of stars are available, from nebula stage to black dwarf.

Numerous scripts are available; these include simple tours, reconstructions of complex space missions such as Cassini–Huygens and Deep Impact, and scripts showing useful information, like size comparisons, or particular events such as multiple simultaneous eclipses of Jupiter's moons or the evolution of a star.

Many well known fictional universes are depicted in detail, with whole solar systems and 3D models - films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek and Star Wars, and TV shows including Stargate SG-1 and Babylon 5. Addons illustrating less well known Web fiction, like Orion's Arm, and detailed personal works by members of the Celestia community depicting extensive fictional solar systems with inhabited worlds, spacecraft, cities and exotic special effects can also be obtained.

Educational add-ons (built by and for educators) are also available and are in use worldwide. These activities provide approximately 40 hours of space journeys and astronomical lessons, to include extensive tours of the Celestia universe, the complete life cycle of stars, the solar system, the human space program, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and depictions of astronomical events such as the formation of our moon billions of years ago, and the possible terraforming of Mars in the future. A special educational version of the Celestia program can also provide sound effects and "cockpit" features to simulate flying in a "real" hyperdrive spacecraft.

Celestia Can Be Allot Of Fun.

Celestia provides photo-realistic, real-time, three-dimensional viewing of the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. It is an easy to use, freely-distributed, multi-platform, open source, software package which has become a valuable tool for astronomy education. Used in homes, schools, museums and planetariums around the world, it also is used as a visualization tool by space mission designers. Versions are available for computers running Windows, Macintosh (Mac OS X) and Linux operating systems.

Although it is optimized for 3D astronomical visualization, Celestia can be used to display and explore other 3D environments, too.

And, for some reason, many people seem to find exploring with Celestia to be a lot of fun.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton

    This AMV features the song Code Monkey by Jonathan Coulton, using footage from the anime Black Heaven.
AMV Editor: Turbo Clips

   A lot of people ask where the song is available, you can buy it at Jonathan Coulton's website for 0.99 or from itunes for the same price. Its released under the Creative Commons license, which grants use for projects like this. Thanks Jonathan!

    Others have asked about the anime, Legend of Black Heaven. This anime is about a man who was in a rock band in his younger days, but they broke up as the members grew up and got married. Years later, in a dead end job and dull marriage, he's approached by aliens who want him to play his music to save them...

    Similar to the way music was influential in Macross, alien research has shown that the music of the disbanded rock band "Black Heaven" is able to power their ultimate weapon and turn the tables on what is inferred as a losing war.

Real world references

  • The name Black Heaven is a reference to seventies metal band Black Sabbath.
  • Oji plays a Gibson Flying V, similar to one played by Michael Schenker, whom he idolizes.
  • Like most famous bands, the songs are written primarily by two band members: Oji and Watanabe.
  • Layla is probably a homage to Eric Clapton's Layla.
  • Hamill is possibly a homage to Mark Hamill, or British singer-songwriter Claire Hamill.
  • Mulder and Scully are seen investigating a disappearance, only to be brushed aside by Layla's stooges.
  • The band's ship is named Zappa, in reference to Frank Zappa.
  • Oji's guitar is a Flying V (Flying Vee), and Gen's favorite show is called the Flying V (Flying Five). The band's ship Zappa also transforms into a giant Flying V.
  • Oji's pick is a Japanese 10 yen coin, a homage to Brian May who used an old sixpence as a pick on Queen albums.
  • All five stage names of Black Heaven - GabrielLukeMichaelRaphael, and Joseph - derive from important figures of Christianity.
  • The episode titles are taken from famous rock songs.
  • The lobster house where Joseph Watanabe was eventually killed was named "Dio Lobster", in homage to the band Dio.
  • In Episode 9, Oji summons a U.F.O. by chanting "Ventura", in reference to Urusei Yatsura.
  • Oji's wife's name is Yoko, probably a reference to Yoko Ono.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cowboy Bebop AMVs

Anime from Music Video: Cowboy Bebop
Song: August Moon by Dylan In The Movies
Fellow Cowboy Bebop fans, do you remember that very first time you finished watching the last episode?

This amv is dedicated to the memory of Spike and the whole Bebop crew: they fought, they laughed and they bled with one another and somehow through it all, they became a family. It's dedicated to that moment when we all knew, when Faye and Jet knew, that we had finally come to the end, our last adventure with Spike. On a night like that, it felt like there was no one else around, under the august moon where Spike would fall forever, and we could no longer hold onto him.

"Why do you have to go? Where are you going? What are you going to do, just throw your life away, like it was nothing?"

"I'm not going there to die. I'm going to find out if I'm really alive. I have to do it, Faye."

After all these years, we still miss you, Spike. Bebop is still my favorite anime of all time. Thank you for being so timeless.~Almost

I hope you all enjoy the video.

For the next AMV this is the creators first attempt at an AMV.
The song used is Teardrop by Massive Attack.
The video pacing, scene selection and song all work together beautifully! An ideal AMV, and spectacular 1st attempt. Hopefully this creator keeps up the good work, and explores some advanced compositing techniques.

The Plot Behind Cowboy Bebob

The universe of Cowboy Bebop opens decades after the explosion of an experimental warp gateway has caused major damage to the Moon and bathed the Earth with radiation, leaving an asteroid ring that threatens the surface with daily meteorite bombardments. Survivors have virtually abandoned the barely-habitable Earth to colonize the inner planets, the asteroid belt and the moons of Jupiter, with the entire solar system accessible via reliable warp gates. Government corruption is rampant, and Interplanetary crime syndicates exert influence over the government and the Inter-Solar System Police (ISSP), limiting their effectiveness in dealing with crime. As a result, a bounty system similar to that in the Old West is established to deal with fugitivesterrorists and other criminals.
Set 2071, and follows the adventures of the crew of the spaceship Bebop are a partnership of bounty hunters, called "cowboys", who travel the Solar System trying to apprehend bounties. Initially the series follows the two principle case members :Jet Black, the owner of the Bebop and main protagonist Spike Spiegel. However, during its travels, the Bebop rapidly gains new crew members, much to the visible annoyance of both Jet and Spike. Most episodes revolve around attempts to bring in a specific bounty. Some of the Bebop's varied targets include small time thugs, gangsters, hackers (known as "net divers" in slang), religious leaders, psychopaths, genetic experiments, mutant creatures and petty thieves. Though the characters advertise themselves as self-interested, their actions frequently show that they are sympathetic to the plight of others. On several occasions, the crew forgoes the chance to collect bounty rewards upon learning of the circumstances of their targets. The crew of the Bebop spends much of its time on Mars, the new central hub of human civilization.

Occasionally the Bebop crew members' pasts catch up with them, and the show regularly turns to the history of the main characters in flashbacks. Spike's past as a syndicate enforcer is a major element of the series, while other episodes deal with Jet's previous occupation as a police officer on Ganymede, Faye's mysterious past and significant debt problems, and Ed's childhood. The day-to-day life of the crew is also explored during the series. A major recurring theme is the chronic lack of money, a situation that is not helped by the crew's frequent inability to collect on bounties. This results in the general disrepair of the Bebop and common shortages of food.

Get The Music From The AMV

A cute AMV

Misa Regretting what Misa Said, created by Jennifer Dury.
The song is Regretting what I said by Christine Lavin.
The video uses various anime sources, but the person singing is from Death Note. I like when she took the dog Ien from Cowboy Bebop and composited it on to another clip. She also composited the death note book in the snow scene when the book falls onto the snow.

I always thought that Misa got the shaft in the Death Note anime---she gets used and abused by Light through the whole thing and then basically shoved off to the side for the second half of the series. The creator of the AMV wanted to give her a voice---give her some "teeth" to bite back at Light. She had been a fan of Christine Lavin's for song for years and thought it fit Misa perfectly. I hope you enjoy it.

Death Note and Misa

Raito Yagami is an intelligent young man who resents what appears to be a relentless increase of crime and corruption in the world around him. His life undergoes a drastic change when he discovers a mysterious notebook, known as the "Death Note", lying on the ground. The Death Note's instructions claim that if a human's name is written within it, that person shall die. Light is initially skeptical of the notebook's authenticity, but after experimenting with it, he realizes that the Death Note is real. After meeting with the previous owner of the Death Note, a shinigami named Ryuk, Light seeks to become "the God of the New World" by passing his keen judgment on those he deems to be evil or who get in his way.

Soon, the number of inexplicable deaths of reported criminals catches the attention of theInternational Police Organization and a mysterious detective known only as "L". L quickly learns that the serial killer, dubbed by the public as "Kira" (キラ?, derived from the typical Japanese pronunciation of the English word "killer"), is located in Japan. He also concludes that Kira can kill people without laying a finger on them. Light realizes that L will be his greatest nemesis, and a game of psychological cat and mouse between the two begins.
Misa Amane, another Death Note owner, finds Light. Obsessed by Kira after the death of her parents' murderer, she devotes herself to helping Light, but is captured by L. Light makes a plan involving renouncing ownership of both Death Notes, and all of his memories of them, and turns himself in to L for surveillance. Together, Light and L investigate eight people from the company "Yotsuba" who are using Misa's Death Note for their own profit. While arresting them, Light recovers all his memories when he touches the Death Note. He remembers and continues his plan of compelling the former owner of Misa's Death Note, the shinigami Rem, into killing L and his aide Watari.


Awesomely eerie instrumental.