This is just a little preview of some of the ways we use blender at Eastern University in our Astronomy program.
Our focus is on binary stars, specifically eclipsing binary stars. We take data over many nights and get a light curve (a star finger print) which we then can formulate what the stars size (relative to our sun), brightness, and other snazzy parameters from.
We also have a planetarium which is great for demonstrating what is going on out in this crazy universe so we decided to attempt to make some movies of the binaries.
Here is a sample of a star system called AD Her. The two stars sizes, distance from each other, inclination and brightness (although colors are just made up in my head) are mathematically correct. We use a program called Binary Maker 3.0 to get a 3d output of the stars. I import that into blender and give it some materials and such. The animations and such are very very simple but really powerful when you see this on a giant dome in a planetarium.
(the background is black because the color black in our planetarium is defined as transparent and all the stars/galaxies show up through it.)
Thanks blender people for making this all possible!
Nifty! Always nice to see Blender used for scientific visualization stuff.
I work for an Astronomical Observatory in Italy. We would simulate a binary system, with gas outflows from one star onto the companion (educational purpose).
Would be interesting to continue this discussion about space simulation.
For those lucky enough to be able to access dome planetariums, TiZeta has developed a dome setup, a simple script to run on your 3d scene in Blender that will render onto a master file, that can be projected inside a dome.
it's here http://www.blender.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17222