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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Space Suite

By Phil Plait

Via Universe Today, I saw this sweet little video by visual effects artist Lucas Green: “Space Suite”. He took NASA images from Cassini, Hubble, and more, applied a few simple 3D tricks to them, and created something pretty dang amazing.

He gives details on his blog on how he created the effects.

It’s all really cool, but I was particularly impressed with how he animated the hexagonal wind system at Saturn’s north pole. The shape seems totally counterintuitive, but it’s a natural outcome of how fluids move in a rotating system. The images we have of the hex are incredible, but seeing it move so naturally and gracefully in Green’s video really brings it to life.

At 0:40, you’re not seeing a Dalmation up close: That’s the surface of Iapetus, A weird, walnut-shaped moon of Saturn (the video opens moving past this moon, too). Right after that is a shot flying over the central mountain in our own Moon’s Tycho crater. I smiled when I saw that; the tilt-shift effect used makes it pop out of the screen, but also makes it look like a kid’s model… and that mountain is over two kilometers tall!

Then there’s lightning in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a flyby of the Sombrero Galaxy, geysers on Enceladus, and more. It’s stunning.

“Space Suite” is a demo, a proof of concept for a longer project Green is doing. After getting a taste of what he can do, I’m very much looking forward to the completed work!

P.S. The music is "Nero", from the group Two Steps From Hell, which creates epic movie trailer music. I really like their stuff, too.

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