A Musician Made a Map of the Entire Universe

Wikipedia image

Behold, the entire known universe in one field of view. This map, created by musician Pablo Carlos Budassi, has been circulating the internet for the past week and a half, and blowing quite a few minds in the process. An unfathomable expanse of gaseous bodies, energy, and gravitational pulls, the universe never ceases to awe and amaze. And Budassi's idea of squeezing it all (at least to our present scientific knowledge) into one image is just about as mind-boggling as outer space itself.

The Creators Project caught up with Budassi, who got the idea for the map "when [he] was drawing hexaflexagons for [his] son's birthday souvenirs and started drawing central views of the cosmos and the solar system," to find out more about his creative process.

Hexaflexagons for Budassi's son's birthday, image courtesy the artist

The Creators Project: Your map is incredibly detailed. Could you walk me through the steps of the process for actually creating it?

Pablo Carlos Budassi: First of all, I put in the center a background of stars. Then I arranged the picture of the Milky Way and put it in the right perspective. It took a lot of work merging the arm that contains the solar system with the rest of our galaxy. Choosing the right colors for the planets in our star system took some time. An equilibrium must be achieved between reality and exalted colors to make the planets more distinguisible.

The nearby galaxies are pictures taken by the Hubble telescope that have always captivated me. Very exotic places that emit light of all kinds of colors in the whole spectrum. The medium-range galaxies and galaxy clusters are also pictures taken from in-orbit telescopes that are avaliable online. Then I arranged the cosmic web that is a curious structure formed by billions of galaxies in the great scale of the cosmos. They form that inner bone spider web-like structure with filaments and great voids between.

l thought I could add some Doppler light effects by painting the farthest part of the cosmic web redder and the nearest more yellow. From our perspective the objects farther away are receding faster from us and apear more red than the things nearer. [It] was given a 3D-like shape with Photoshop tools and finally the plasma was added (although it is actually invisible). 

Sketch of universe map concept, courtesy the artist

What sorts of complications and difficulties did you encounter during the process?

Lots of issues with the scale and trying to make it look familiar and also as accurate as possible. Same with the positions and perspectives of objects. The planets, the asteroid belts, and the rings of Saturn are more or less inscribed in a plane, and I didn't depict that in this drawing in order to make it more understandable for people. The galaxy of Andromeda is closer to the center of the drawing than the center of the Milky Way, and that is not correct, as one German designer pointed out to me when we were adapting the drawing for an atlas.

What are your future plans for the map? Do you intend to take on more projects like this one?

I am currentlyfully dedicated to my job as a sessionist musician, and in my free time I write poetry and music and I'm happy with that. Maybe I'll continue with this cosmic graphic design if I feel like it. I never intended to make money, just contribute to Wikipedia, which I think is a great thing. People with only an old computer or cheap cell phone have access to an acceptable, reliable souce of knowledge. And it's very up-to-date. This is a unique time in history.

You can see more related images on both the map's official Facebook page and Google+ page.

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