AAOGlimpse - Fun with OpenGL and FITS files

Keith Shortridge (Australian Astronomical Observatory)


The GPUs in modern computers, even laptops, are now sufficiently powerful that it becomes feasible to take advantage of this power to display astronomical data interactively in new and possibly more informative ways. AAOGlimpse (http://www.aao.gov.au/local/www/ks/AAOGlimpse.html) is an experimental display program that uses OpenGL to display FITS data (and even JPEG images) as 3D surfaces that can be rotated and viewed from different angles, all in real-time. It is WCS-compliant and designed to handle three-dimensional data. Each plane in a data cube is surfaced in the same way, and the program allows the user to travel through a cube by 'peeling off' successive planes, or to look into a cube by suppressing the display of data below a given cutoff value. It can blink images and can superimpose images and contour maps from different sources using their world coordinate data. A limited socket interface allows communication with other programs. I discuss some of the lessons learned during the development of AAOGlimpse, both about OpenGL and data display in general, and consider some of the possibilities for future development of the program.

Slides in PDF format

Paper ID: O25

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