Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Galactic cluster models

I haven't seen models of the local universe. Pictures, yes. Stereographs, yes. Honest-to-goodness hold-in-your-hand models, no.

I'm thinking of a simple plastic sphere with the local galaxies in their correct sizes and orientations. If you cast a small "model-on-a-stick" for each galaxy, and then cast them all into the bigger ball, it might work.

A model-on-a-stick is a model of a galaxy, made of whatever looks realistic enough, cast in clear plastic and with a thin rod of clear plastic connected to it. Assemble these, and cast the whole lot in clear plastic (do we have to evacuate the air to prevent bubbles?), and you get your local cluster model.

How far out should we go? Andromeda, surely. There are a few globular clusters in the near vicinity too. If you go too far the globe starts to look pretty empty and the galaxies pretty small.