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Tuesday, January 19, 2016


The David Bowie Constellation in Stellarium

The David Bowie constellation, as illustrated in the memorial webpages What the constellation will actually look like this morning at around 3 am AEDST looking east. Simulated in Stellarium, click to embiggenWhat the constellation will look on 1 April  in the morning at around 3 am AEDST looking south. Simulated in Stellarium, click to embiggen

DDB Brussles report of this amazing tribute to David Bowie has been circulating around the world. The images of the "constellation" Belgian astronomers of the MIRA public observatory created has attracted attention (rather than the fact that the image is interactive and that clicking in the lightning flash plays Bowie songs).

But will the "constellation" actually look like that? The constellation was drawn on 2D maps of the sky, and there is likely some distortion. So I used the "sky cultures" feature of Stellarium to create the Bowie constellation, using the stars nominated by the Belgian astronomers. The results can be seen in the images above.

The "constellation" is only briefly visible before Sunrise in the southern hemisphere (and a large chunk of it is permanently below the horizon for the northern hemisphere) at the moment, and it is side on It won't be until April that it will be oriented more vertically.  It is still a bit chunky, but not too bad a representation.

Of course, several of the stars are too faint to be easily seen, and the "constellation" ignores the obvious bright stars, but it does reasonably produce a lightning flash. And it is ephemeral, as it was produced to be "near Mars, but Mars will move away from the "constellation" over the year, and be far away by 2017.

 Still, a nice idea. I you want to add this to stellarium yourself, in the skycultures folder create a folder called Bowie. The create the following files:

constellation_names.eng.fab, constellationship.fab, description.en.utf8, info.ini, 
references.txt and star_names.fab 
using the file contents below; constellationship.fab  is the Hippicaros numbers of the stars involved (placed in line connection order).  The star_names.fab doesn't work even though identically set up files work fine for my Boorong and  Karuna sky cultures. I leave fixing this as an exercise to the reader. See the abbreviated rules here.

001 "Ziggy Stardust" _("Ziggy Stardust")
002 "NTest" _("NTest")
001 7  65474 73714 73714 77952 77952 70069 70069 70638 70638 64003 64003 68002 68002 65474

David Bowie Tribute

Music legend David Bowie gets his own constellation, delineated by seven stars that shine in the iconic shape of a lightning bolt. A remarkable tribute by Belgian music station Studio Brussel and MIRA Public Observatory. External links


This sky culture was contributed by Stellarium user Ian Musgrave based on the work of Belgian music station Studio Brussel and MIRA Public Observatory. ==========info.ini========================= [info] name = Bowie ===========references.txt=================== Reference sources - http://ddbbrussels.prezly.com/belgians-give-starman-bowie-own-constellation# http://stardustforbowie.be/ =========star_names.fab================ 65474|_("Spica") 73714|_("sigma Librae") 77952|_("beta Triangulum") 70069|_("SAO 241641") 70638|_("beta Octanis") 64003|_("SAO 204132") 68002|_("zeta Centauri") 80112|_("Wife of Dujit") =========================================

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