Gaia in the UK

Taking the Galactic Census


On this page:

Gaia in one minute

A series of six cartoons about Gaia. The first four cartoons listed below were created by Angel Eye Media and the Gaia team in Cambridge. The other cartoons two were produced for Gaia by the Open University as episodes of "60 Second Adventures in Astronomy" series.

Why we need Gaia

Why we need Gaia thumbnailHow old are the stars?
Watch cartoon Why we need Gaia

What's the big deal about Gaia?

What's the big deal about Gaia? thumbnailJust how do you go about creating a 3D map of a galaxy?
Watch cartoon What's the big deal about Gaia?

How do we benefit from space?

How do we benefit from space? thumbnailCool and exciting science? Big deal! What's the pay-off for me?
Watch cartoon How do we benefit from space?

Can I be part of Gaia?

Can I be part of Gaia? thumbnailFind out how you can get involved in Gaia and contribute to new and exciting discoveries in our Galaxy and beyond…
Watch cartoon Can I be part of Gaia?

Gaia and the Killer Asteroids

Gaia and the Killer Asteroids thumbnailHow will Gaia help us spot Killer Asteroids?
Watch cartoon Gaia and the Killer Asteroids

Taking a Galactic Census

Taking a galactic census thumbnailHow do you take a census in space?
Watch cartoon Taking a Galactic Census

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Max Planck Institute for Astronomy animations

If we want to understand our own origins, then we need to understand the chemistry of stars.

Find out more by watching these two cartoons created by Angel Eye Media for M. Bergemann's Stellar Spectroscopy Research Group at Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg in collaboration with the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.

What are the stars made of?  thumbnailWhat are stars made of?

What might you be able to find about the stars just by examining their light? Watch cartoon What are stars made of?

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60 Second Adventures in Astronomy

A series of 14 one-minute cartoons, created by the Open University, explaining selected astronomical topics. The last two cartoons, Gaia and the Killer Asteroids and Taking a Galactic Census, listed above in "Gaia in one minute section", were developed for Gaia. The other 12 cartoons in the series are: The Big Bang, Supernovae, Exoplanets, A Day on Mercury, The Rotating Moon, Life on Mars, Event Horizons, Dark MatterDark EnergySpecial Relativity, Large Hadron Collider and Black Holes. Read more.

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Gaia film

Gaia film thumbnail

Gaia's mission: solving the celestial puzzle

A 20-minute film about Gaia - the space mission to create the largest, most-accurate, map of the Milky Way in three dimensions will revolutionise our understanding of the galaxy and the universe beyond. Watch video Gaia's mission: solving the celestial puzzle.

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Selected Gaia videos

Gaia 360 degree DR2 sky360° view of Gaia's sky

Explore Gaia's all-sky view of our Milky Way Galaxy and neighbouring galaxies in 360 degrees using Data Release 2 data. Watch video 360° view of Gaia's sky.

Comparison of Gaia DR1 and DR2Comparison between Gaia's first and second data releases

A virtual journey showing a comparison between Gaia's first and second data releases. Watch video Comparison between Gaia's first and second data releases.

Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia thumbnailCharting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia

ESA vodcast introducing Gaia mission, its scientific goals, the spacecraft and instruments. Watch video Charting the Galaxy - from Hipparcos to Gaia.

Gaia Nominal Scanning Law movie thumbnailGaia Nominal Scanning Law movie

The Nominal Scanning Law (NSL) animation shows an accurate simulation of the Nominal Scanning Law (NSL) of Gaia during its 5 year nominal mission in 2-dimensional Hammer-Aitoff projection. Watch video The Nominal Scanning Law.

CTI Effects Models for Gaia Simulation Example

Animation showing distorting effects of the Charge Transfer Inefficiency (CTI) on observed stellar images. Watch video CTI Effects Models for Gaia.

Guide to our Galaxy thumbnailGuide to our Galaxy

A virtual journey showing the different components that make up our home galaxy, the Milky Way, which contains about a hundred billion stars. Watch video Guide to our Galaxy.

Watch launch videos.

More Gaia videos

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Gaia on BBC Click Live Show

Gaia was featured on Click's live show. The recording of the show can be watched on BBC iPlayer. Gaia section starts at around the 10th minute. Watch Gaia on Click Live Show.

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Selected science videos

Orbits of globular clusters and dwarf galaxiesGlobular clusters and dwarf galaxies orbits

Globular clusters and dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, using Gaia Data Release 2 data. Watch video Globular clusters and dwarf galaxies orbit.

Gaia's DR2 asteroid surveyGaia's first asteroid survey

Animated view of the 14 099 asteroids in our Solar System, as viewed by ESA’s Gaia satellite using information from the mission's second data release. Watch video Gaia's first asteroid survey.

History of Supernovae detections thumbnailHistory of Supernovae detections

Animation showing the history of Supernovae explosions as recorded on the IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) between 1985 and November 2013. Watch video History of Supernovae detections.

Supernova Sonata thumbnailSupernova Sonata

A sound animation created to help understand the diversity of the SNe Ia observations detected by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Legacy Survey. Watch video Supernova Sonata.

More science videos

BBC Bitesize Space Science clips

A series of engaging videos in which Jon Chase introduces the subject of space science to Scottish Nationals and GCSE pupils. Read more about BBC Bitesize Space Science.

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Gaia DR2 Gaia Sky videos and Virtual Reality resources

A series of videos made with Gaia Sky using Gaia Data Release 2 data: . Included are: Comparison of the Gaia DR1 TGAS catalogue with the new Gaia DR2 catalogue, Demonstration of parallaxes and proper motion in the northern sky, Demonstration of parallaxes and proper motions - 360 degrees video, Demonstration of the LMC rotation, Tour through the Gaia DR2 asteroids.

Several resources have been developed to visualise the extraordinary Gaia Data Release 2 data set, both for public outreach and scientific exploitation purposes. They include:

  • interactive videos, which can be viewed with a Virtual Reality Cardboard kit, 
  • GaiaVR Virtual Reality application (versions for Windows and Mac OS are available), which can be viewed with an HTC Vive virtual reality headset and a motion-tracked handheld controller (it can be used without HTC Vive as the 2D visualisation tool),
  • Gaia Sky VR, the Virtual Reality version of Gaia Sky, is a real-time, 3D, astronomy Virtual Reality software that runs on multiple headsets and operating systems thanks to Valve's OpenVR.

For more information about Gaia Data Release 2 Virtual Reality resources and links to downloads visit .

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Gaia Data Release 2: A guide for scientists videos

"Gaia Data Release 2: A guide for scientists" is a series of 15 videos made by scientists for scientists. They are meant to give some overview of Gaia Data Release 2 and give help or guidance on the usage of the data. Also given are warnings and explanations on the limitations of the data. These videos are based on Skype interviews with the scientists. The videos are available from

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Other videos

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ESA media websites

A large selection of Gaia videos and images can be found on the following ESA's websites:

Some images and videos are also available from ESA Space Science on Flickr, and videos from ESA's channel on YouTube.

Videos of the launch are available at Gaia launch replay pages  and "Launch videos" section of this website.

Gaia in the sky

Images of Gaia on its way to L2 point taken in response to DPAC call to "Take a picture of Gaia".

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Gaia Archive Visualisation Service gallery

A range of resources for use in presentations of GDR1 data can be downloaded from the Gaia Archive Visualisation Service gallery ( ). They include:

  • Images showing integrated GDR1 source brightness and source density maps (all-sky and selected regions).
  • All-sky maps in Hierarchical Progressive Survey (HiPS) format for viewing with Aladin or other software supporting HiPS (the maps are based on a HEALPIX grid with NSIDE=8192).
  • FITS images of some regions. Contours or other overlays and manipulations for analysis or presentation purposes can be done with DS9, IRAF, Python and other software.
  • Large format images for dome projection. Large 16384x8192-pixel all-sky panoramas in a Cartesian plane projection, suitable for use in modern digital planetaria.

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Gaia Sky 3D visualization software

Gaia Sky is a real-time, 3D, open source astronomy visualization software that runs on Windows, Linux and OS X. It is developed by the Gaia group at the Astronomisches Rechen-Institut  (ARI) at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University. The release accompanying the Gaia Data Release 1 was built with TGAS (Tycho-Gaia Astrometric Solution, see Gaia Data Release 1) catalogue.

A Virtual Reality version of Gaia Sky, Gaia Sky VR, is available. Gaia Sky VR runs on multiple headsets and operating systems thanks to Valve's OpenVR.

Download Gaia Sky.

Gaia Mission app

University of Barcelona has developed a mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The app allows you to explore the satellite, and learn about the mission and its science. The app is available for download from iTunes.

The Gaia app for Android devices is now also available for download from Google Play. Download Gaia app for Android devices.

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Google Chrome 100,000 Stars visualization

100,000 Stars is an interactive visualization of 100,000 stars in the solar neighbourhood. The application uses data from three sources: Hipparcos, Yale Bright Star Catalog, and Gliese/Jahreiss Catalog. It is a Chrome Experiment developed by the Google Data Arts Team. You can try the visualization at  More information about the application can be found at and

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Gaia cut-out model

Make a paper model of Gaia. Download the instructions (PDF, 815 KB). Copyright 2014 – John Jogerst. (Not for commercial use; for personal or educational use only.)

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Page last updated: 29 January 2020