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Sample POV-Ray Include Files!

Here are some POV-Ray include (.inc) files you can use to create your own 3D star fields. They are complete to magnitude +5.5, a typical limiting magnitude for moderately dark skies, so they will simulate a typical naked-eye view from Earth quite nicely. The files were generated from an early version of the HYG database described elsewhere on this site.

The include files are all centered on Earth. Simply move the camera around inside the star field, and have fun!

Four include files are available:

  1. hipp55.inc, the "base" file
  2. hipp55l.inc, a version more suitable for large (>800 x 600) traces
  3. hipp55c.inc, a version with compressed brightnesses
  4. hipp55lc.inc, a combination of the features of hipp55l and hipp55c

About Brightness Compression: In the include files without compressed brightnesses, the area of each star object (a smoothly textured sphere) is directly proportional to its absolute luminosity (i.e., its total light output, irrespective of distance). The advantage of this: no matter where you position yourself among the star field, the apparent size of the star will always be directly proportional to the brightness it would have, seen from that point. The disadvantage is that really bright stars look unnaturally large (check out Sirius or Canopus), and really faint stars may not render well at all.

With brightness compression, the star's size is artifically scaled by a value depending on its brightness as seen from Earth. Specifically, bright stars are shrunk a bit, while faint ones are enlarged a bit. The advantage is more natural-looking stars. The disadvantage is that apparent star brightness far away from the center point (i.e., Earth) no longer correlates with star size, since the star size has been altered by the star's apparent brightness, not its own intrinsic luminosity. Thus a star that is rendered larger, at a point remote from the center point, may not really appear brighter in the sky as seen from that point.

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