3D star maps by Stellarium It began in 1975 as an effort to create a three dimensional map of our sun and its nearest neighbors in space. Not just beads on strings - something that really looked like stars. There was no thought of a business. It was an amateur project in the very best sense of the word: For love of the subject.

After three years and many false starts a small prototype was completed and taken to a local planetarium for evaluation. Would they accept a large map, say six feet in diameter, as a gift if we could successfully build one? We just wanted to see one that big.

Construction began. A completely unanticipated phenomena gradually became evident. The growing model was not only intellectually interesting it was becoming truly wondrous. A view of the heavens previously inaccessible to the human senses gradually appeared. The new display completely surpassed all expectations. Mark Peterson, then Director of Denver’s Gates Planetarium stated it in a word: “Captivating.” This first large, prototypical Stellarium went on public display in 1979. It remained in public service for twenty years.

An eight foot diameter map was built in Rohnert Park, California, in 1983. We just wanted to see one. Again the unexpected occured. It was much more impressive than the six foot map. The new giant map received rave reviews. We started Stellarium.

I can see a visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in the near future.