The Kepler mission by NASA has discovered more than 100 planets that orbit stars. Jonathan Corum for The New York Times visualized the ones with known size and orbit using small multiples. Scroll all the way down for our solar system as a point of reference.
Most of the photos are taken of land. Coastlines, islands and cities seem to be popular targets. So much so that it’s possible to make out basic continents. This makes sense, photos of clouds over an otherwise blank ocean get old after a while. I'm sure every astronaut has taken at least one photograph of the town they grew up in.
Above is the use of small multiples to show pictures taken during separate missions.
Long distances (and big numbers) can be difficult grasp. Designers Jesse Williams and David Paliwoda took a stab at it and made it easier to understand the distance from Mars. Simple and totally fun. I'm not sure how accurate the travel time and distance are, but I'm guessing it takes differing orbits into account.
How big is the Moon, really? Reddit user boredboarder8 provided some perspective with this image of the Moon with an overlaid United States. It's roughly estimated (and others would be better at commenting on the accuracy better than me), but after some back-of-napkin math it seems about right. The area of the United States, not including Alaska, is a little over 20 percent of the Moon's surface area. [via io9]
CFP: UCSB Media Fields Conference: Access/Trespass
In a beautiful rendition of the galaxy, Google visualized 100,000 stars, starting at the sun and out to a view of the Milky Way. Start with the tour, which takes you through an overview of what there is to see, and then explore on your own. Specifically, once you zoom out over four light years away from the sun, you start to see other known stars. Click on the labels for information and a closer look at what looks like flaming balls of lava. [via @pitchinc]
Are we the only intelligent, communicating civilisation in the galaxy? Tweak the statistical probabilities of the ‘Drake Equation’ and find out.
(It’s only viewable to people outside the UK. Unless you’re running something like <cough>Tunnel Bear</cough>)
additional design: Piero Zagami
exec creative direction: Duncan Swain
research: Marley Whiteside
sources: Wolfram Alpha, University of Berkeley, Wikipedia – Drake Equation, NASA
While we're on the subject of stars, developer Riley Davis modeled the ones in the zodiac constellations and color-coded them by temperature. He also labeled the constellations and included the celestial equator (the projection of Earth's equator into space), ecliptic (path of the sun), and the sun, which moves in real-time. The interactive starts with a view from space, where the little blue dot is Earth, and when you release the camera, you see the stars from our point of view.
I was disoriented at first with the navigation but got used to it quickly. Movement of the mouse left to right zooms in and out, and movement top to bottom rotates the perspective. Feels a lot like flying through space. Well how I imagine it to be, at least.
To follow me on Twitter, click here.