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You're probably familiar with the idea of stereo vision: by taking the two slightly different images your eyes see, your brain combines them and you perceive depth. Alas, human eyes aren't spaced quite far enough to sense the relative distances of the stars -- we'd need eyeballs spaced about a trillion kilometers apart to accomplish that. Consequently, stars look like dots on a flat background, with no sense of depth.
This is where 3D Universe comes in. By taking the new, accurate stellar distance information from Hipparcos, and creating artificially separated "eyes" to view from, stereo imagery of the stars is possible. There are several ways to present stereo images. 3D Universe
currently uses two of the simplest and most widely used ways.
(1)The first is "anaglyphic" images, which are images drawn in two colors (usually red and blue or red and green). When viewed through glasses with appropriately colored lenses, anaglyphic images show depth. The anaglyphic images in 3D Universe should be viewed with red - blue 3D glasses, with the red lens on the left side.
3D Universe can create red-blue images in the Advanced Charts section. The Basic section doesn't support anaglyphs yet.
(2) The second common way is known as "side-by-side" or "stereo pair" images. These are pairs of images, drawn side-by-side, in which each image corresponds to the view seen by either eye.
Viewing stereo pair images requires a little practice. Normally, your eyes move in tandem, both looking along nearly parallel directions. With stereo pairs, in order to make sure each eye gets the correct image, you must force your eyes to look slightly apart. Depending on how the images are set up, you have to make your eyes either converge ("cross-eyed") or diverge ("wall-eyed") slightly. To see the stereo image, look at one member of the pair with both eyes, then slowly cross or widen your eyes. What happens now can be a little confusing at first: instead of seeing a pair of images, you'll see two pairs, each slightly displaced from each other, since your eyes are no longer parallel. If you keep crossing/widening your eyes, eventually, the right image of one of these pairs will approach the left image of the other. You want to get these two to merge, right on top of each other. Voila! The merged image will show depth!
Both the Basic and the Advanced sections of this page create side-by-side stereo pairs.