Update ! I found some more galaxies down the back of the sofa, bringing the total to 11,710. Amazingly it still renders in 3 seconds per frame… :
Also see the (very large) still : www.rhysy/net/WIPS/AllData.jpg
Thanks for the comments ! Owldude, I didn’t know about that script - I had my own code lying around from other projects. When I realised what I could do with it I had to try this, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get any sleep.
Kinrove, an HI catalogue is a list of galaxies detected in a neutral hydrogen (HI) gas survey. It’s useful because it contains the redshift (which is basically the same as distance) of each galaxy.
The Python script reads in the position of the galaxies from the catalogue and creates a plane at those coordinates, and applies the appropriate image texture. The catalogue also contains the size of each galaxy (but this is approximate and sometimes very innacurate) which the script uses to scale each plane.
To retrieve the RGB images I used jedit to create a list of URLs which I fed into Image Grabber. It took about 10 hours to download all 11,710 images. It would be fun to see how far I can push this. The difficulty is obtaining a catalogue of galaxies are in the SDSS (so they have nice, easily retrievable images) and optical diameter measurements.