(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)
An experimental website for Google Chrome lets you move among the stars.
This is how the Silver Surfer must feel.
Made by some space enthusiasts at Google, 100,000 Stars is an interactive website that lets you explore the "stellar neighbourhood" — that is, a selection of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, with our Sun at the epicentre. You can pan and zoom like some giant celestial being, feeling the vastness of space — especially when you start thinking that this is just a small section of the universe.
Even better, 87 stars can be viewed close-up, with data pulled from Wikipedia Astronomy Nexus, the Gliese/Jahreiß Catalogue, Yale University's Department of Astronomy and the European Space Agency.
As its creators say, therefore, scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. But, coupled with a sound landscape by Sam Hulick (whose work you may know from Mass Effect), the experience is profound.
You can visit 100,000 Stars here — but bear in mind that it is optimised for the Chrome browser, and will not perform as well in other browsers.