Why Space Visualizations Are Hard

Space visualizations… They’re always popular, they’re interesting to do and they’re always hard. The objects we’re looking at are almost incomprehensibly large, except when compared to the distances at play. Because the differences are so great, you’re usually left to either model the proper distances, or the proper sizes, but not both.

I hadn’t seen a scale model of the Solar System, and so I thought I’d make one. I have a VERY simple blender file that has the inner solar system (Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Earth) at scale.

I tried to render this, and the planets were invisible. So I increased the resolution… And the planets were still invisible. A few iterations later, I finally got an unexpected result: Blender crashed.

I had been running in the standard 16:9 ratio, and all of the empty black above and below the area I cared about was taking up all of the RAM on my computer. Thankfully, this rendering is extremely linear, so I was able to dramatically adjust the aspect ratio to only draw those things I actually cared about.

Here it is, in all its glory… A scale rendering of the inner solar system. This rendering is 30,000 pixels wide. To be able to see the whole thing at once, you’d need 28 1080p monitors next to each other. Earth is about 3×3 pixels (not counting the edge blending).

Here’s a preview:

solar2

Download full version here (70k, turns out all black compresses well).

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1U6CDRBhGxK0-G6aKaPlTyqOg30EMR2X6

Note: I have to open it in GIMP because it’s so wide.

Blender file is here

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MwJmYPmXaMT3Fa_d7con_Qw2G8azYJjd/view?usp=sharing

 

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