As long as humans have existed, we have looked towards the night sky and wondered what’s out there.
The earliest steps towards exploring the universe were in 1957 with the first unmanned orbital launch, while 1961 brought us the year us the first successful human spaceflight.
The first celestial body objected to space exploration was the Earth’s Moon, and in 1969 the Apollo 11 mission marked the first time any human set foot upon another world.
Since then, many of the planets of our solar system, asteroids and comets have received unmanned explorations from Earth. In 2011 Voyager 1 reached the edge of the Solar System. Space exploration further than this vessel’s capacity is, as of now, not possible due to limitations in the space-engine technology.
But what if instead of exploring the universe by leaving earth and going deep into space, you could rather bring the stars, planets, comets and asteroids into your own proximity? The Night Sky Explorer lets you explore space from the comfort of your own home by projecting what lies in front of you in space whatever direction you point it.
By following this instructable you can build your very own Night Sky Explorer.
Step 1: Components
The Night Sky Explorer uses a LSM303 sensor that orients its position on Earth and movement in a space. For a detailed introduction to this central component of the project, check out this explorative instructable of the LSM303 (https://www.instructables.com/id/LSM303DLHC-explora...).
By going through this instructable, you will get to know how to wire up the LSM303 to an arduino, which is all the physical components you will need, in addition to a pocket projector. This project made use of a Pico projector from Optoma, but any other would do. Also, if you don’t care about the size, an ordinary projector will also do the job. Optionally, but recommended for stability, it is a good idea to assemble all the components to a tripod.
Step 2: Assembling
The LSM303 sensor needs to be placed in acertain distance from all other traces of metal or magnets. If not, this will cause disturbances in the readings and errors will occur. This is why you should use wires of a certain length as a buffer to keep the sensor at a safe distance.
Step 3: Arduino
As seen in the LSM303DLHC exploration instructable (https://www.instructables.com/id/LSM303DLHC-explora...) it's possible to get data from the accelerometer and magnetometer into processing and do different visualisations there. Follow instructions there and upload the LSM303DLHCreading sketch (https://github.com/martinhj/LSM303DLHCreading).
When the sketch is up and running and connected to your computer you can use it's output in processing.
Step 4: Processing
Check out the line "serialPort = new Serial(this, Serial.list(), 115200);" in the setup function. It might be needed to change which serial port to use (in the sketch it's the third port). Try with 0, 1, 2, 4 etc. if 3 does not work.
Step 5: Enjoy the Night Sky
With all components fully assembled and all coding and processing through with, you can sit back and explore the night sky.