Over 100,000 asteroids and their colors, as seen by a single remarkable survey telescope.
This animation shows the orbital motions of over 100,000 of the asteroids observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), with colors illustrating the compositional diversity measured by the SDSS five-color camera. The relative sizes of each asteroid are also illustrated.
All main-belt asteroids and Trojan asteroids with orbits known to high precision are shown. The animation is rendered with a timestep of 3 days.
The compositional gradient of the asteroid belt is clearly visible, with green Vesta-family members in the inner belt fading through the blue C-class asteroids in the outer belt, and the deep red Trojan swarms beyond that.
Occasional diagonal slashes that appear in the animation are the SDSS survey beams; these appear because the animation is rendered at near the survey epoch.
The average orbital distances of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter are illustrated with rings.
Funding for the creation and distribution of the SDSS Archive has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Participating Institutions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Japanese Monbukagakusho, and the Max Planck Society. The SDSS Web site is sdss.org/.
The SDSS is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) for the Participating Institutions. The Participating Institutions are The University of Chicago, Fermilab, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, The Johns Hopkins University, the Korean Scientist Group, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State University, University of Pittsburgh, University of Portsmouth, Princeton University, the United States Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington.
When working on this project, I was deeply inspired by the dynamics of motion and philosophy of Kung Fu. Masters: Lee Shek Lin, Wong Yiu Kau.
Visualizing the invisible is always fascinating, and motion visualizations have been created even in pre-digital times with light, photography, costumes or paintings. I have described some of the methods that I applied in this work in my book "Grids for the Dynamic Images", published 2003.