I have been working on a fun, *mindboggling* project for a few weeks. It finally got its name: Galaxy Navigator 3D – because that’s more or less what it is 🙂
The European Space Agency, ESA, launched satellite Gaia in 2013 to optically register each an every star it can detect. The database of stars it has produced (or rather, a subset of the database) is used by Galaxy Navigator 3D. The database is downloaded, cached, and loaded into our interactive navigator, allowing you to easily move around the stars of the Milky Way, using the mouse and keyboard. Main page is here.
ESA estimates that there are 100 thousand million stars in our galaxy. Of these, roughly 1% (or one billion stars) have been detected by the Gaia satellite, meaning that the majority of the stars in the galaxy are too faint for detection, or simply occluded by other stars and distributed matter. The preliminary database released by ESA, the TGAS database, contains accurate information for 1.2 million stars.