Visualizing Astronomical Data with Blender

This is a guest post by Brian R. Kent, an astronomer at NRAO.

Astronomy is a visually stunning science.  From wide-field multi-wavelength images to high-resolution 3D simulations, astronomers produce many kinds of important visualizations.  Astronomical visualizations have the potential for generating aesthetically appealing images and videos, as well as providing scientists with the ability to inspect phase spaces not easily explored in 2D plots or traditional statistical analysis.  A new paper is now available in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (PASP) entitled “Visualizing Astronomical Data with Blender.”  The paper discusses:

  • Aspects of Blender, a 3D graphics package, that pertain to the visualization of astronomical data from telescopes, astrophysical simulations, maps, and catalogs.

  • The use of high-performance and GPU computing.

  • The Python API (Application Program Interface) for scripting.

  • Examples and tutorials

Take a look at the demonstration video below that exhibits the principles outlined in the paper.

There are many great possibilities – the software is extremely flexible and there are many exciting visualization applications one could imagine.  How could you use Blender in your research?  Are there new scenarios with 3D graphics where you are looking for an innovative solution?


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