A musical clock made of stars

Jim Bumgardner has created a lovely sound project that brings to life the music of the spheres: "Wheel of Stars."
wheelofstars.jpg I downloaded public data from Hipparcos, a satellite launched by the European Space Agency in 1989 that accurately measured over a hundred thousand stars.

The data I downloaded contains position, parallax, magnitude, and color information, among other things.

Sean Bonner, upon whose blog I discovered this, says, "I highly recommend fullscreen and the use of headphones. Listening to this is hypnotic. I want it to play constantly in the background of my life."


  1. Well, this is going on the list of things I need in my future Myst-inspired house.

    “And here, through the secret fireplace doorway, we have the musical observatory. The next door is opened by playing the sounds of the stars for a given time, at that time.”

  2. I’ve had this on at a very low volume at my workstation all day… and it’s utterly mesmerizing and surprisingly conductive to a soothing workflow. Lovely. Bookmarked, period.

  3. Been listening to this for a few minutes now, and it’s all about the choice of tone. Winds sound like air, which we associate with space. So majestic.

    Now… do the exact same thing with banjo samples.

  4. Ernunnios: How right you are! I went through a number of the sounds in the STK (synthesis toolkit) before settling on that particular sound, which is called “BlowBotl”.

    Most of ’em sounded less than celestial.

  5. Ever since I was a kid, even before I’d ever heard the phrase “music of the spheres” I’ve had dreams–just regular, everynight common dreams about whatever–during which anytime I looked up at the night sky, the stars would make a faint chiming song that would haunt me long after I awakened. I tried to keep the sound playing in my head for as long as possible, but it would fade, and I’d eventually forget about the star-song until I had another dream that featured it. This musical clock of stars plays the exact same song…this has blown my mind. That it exists for others to enjoy gives me a sense of relief, as if I finally got that song out of my mind and into the non-dream world.

Comments are closed.