At the Movies 
(my random, rarely-updated visualization blog)

This is a podcast/blog dedicated to astrophysics movies, particularly themed towards my own interests in getting this in the public eye, through classrooms, planetaria, websites like this one and of course big ones like YouTube. Basically, there’s a huge wealth of simulators making these beautiful and incredibly instructive visualizations, and painfully little being done to really take advantage of it all for relating to the public how cool space and physics can be!

At the movies (for real!)

Ok, time for this incredibly sparsely-updated video collection to earn its’ name! I finally feel like I’ve settled in LA, since Jessie and I, together with Chris Hayward and his wife Tara, got to go to the premiere of Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time. (Featuring, of course, some of our animations). Caltech put together a featurette on it, which you can watch here. Super-fun! If you’re curious, we contributed the animation of galaxies colliding in the first few minutes of the IMAX cut, along with a couple others. You can see more of ours, with additional discussion and narration, here:

Deep Field

A new symphonic film, just publicly released on YouTube, by composer Eric Whitacre, in collaboration with many scientists but especially Frank Summers at STSci, uses our simulations to seamlessly blend real data into the most physically realistic and detailed “fly-through” of our galaxy every visualized. Check it out!

Jan 30, 2019 (ignore the incorrect date below!)

Planet Formation: It’s a Drag

The movie above features an interview with me and some beautiful movies put together by the folks in the Caltech media and press office, in particular Whitney Clavin and Peter Holderness, who did an absolutely amazing job! Check it out if you want to learn how dust can clump together to form planets and build crazy behaviors in the inter-stellar medium. 

Jan 30, 2019 (ignore the incorrect date below!)


Above is a video explaining the breakthroughs and new physics in our “Latte” simulations, the highest-resolution simulations of a Milky Way like galaxy that have ever been run to the present day, presented in Wetzel et al. 2016 (

Illustris Simulation Movies

The folks behind the Illustris simulations (similar to the EAGLE runs described in a previous post: large-volume cosmological simulations) have put together some beautiful visualizations. See more at

The Original Galaxy Simulations

This is what the first galaxy simulations looked like! See for more details

Metal Stars!

Sarah Willis, a postdoc at the CfA, wrote a program for SciShow Space on our ‘Totally Metal Stars’ Work: for great explanations and cool movies of the process in action, with smart people commenting, check out:

New Movies! (Cosmological Simulations)

Bunches of new movies of our FIRE cosmological simulations, uploaded to the site. See them here and here!

For other movies of our simulations, check the following:

Movies of isolated galaxies with powerful outflows driven by supernovae and other forms of feedback from young, massive stars

Movies of galaxy mergers between those same galaxies 

Movies of galaxy merger simulations with outflows driven by accreting black holes instead of massive stars

Movies of “Zoom-In” simulations that follow gas from a merger down to ~0.1 parsec scales as it accretes onto a super-massive black hole

Movies of cosmological simulations, where we follow the formation of galaxies over cosmic time, with powerful outflows driven by feedback

Movies of a fly-through of a Milky-Way like galaxy, formed in cosmological simulations, showing various properties

A Collection Submitted by Readers

On io9 a couple days ago:

Links to some of my favorites: 

“The known Universe (AMNH):”

“The Cosmic Calendar (National Geographic)”:

“Comparison of Star Sizes”:

“Scales of the Universe (2)”:

And of course, the classic, “Powers of Ten”:

Rob Crain’s EAGLES Movies

Over at

Rob Crain has set up a vimeo channel for his movies with Typhoon, a visualization tool, mostly designed around cosmological simulations. Some awesome stuff! And good advertising for the EAGLE project, a counterpart to the Illustris simulation, and the next-generation in large-volume cosmological simulations.

© Philip Hopkins 2015