As the latest in our Terry obsession with Science-Inspired Music, check out Jim Bumgardner’s “Wheel of Stars”
Image: European Space Agency/Hubble
To make this, I downloaded public data from Hipparcos, a satellite launched by the European Space Agency in 1989 that accurately measured over a hundred thousand stars. The data I downloaded contains position, parallax, magnitude, and color information, among other things.
As the stars cross zero and 180 degrees, indicated by the center line, the clock plays an individual note, or chime for each star. The pitch of the chime is based on the star’s BV measurement (which roughly corresponds to color or temperature). The volume is based on the star’s magnitude, or apparent brightness, and the stereo panning is based on the position on the screen (use headphones to hear it better).
Jim has a series of other fascinating projects blending mathematics and geometry with music, including the Whitney Music Box.