In late 2016, Clemens Steffin launched a “Universe in a Sphere” project on Kickstarter. A bit like the memorable scene in Men in Black in which it’s revealed that our entire galaxy is simply swirls in a toy marble played with by some unimaginably giant alien, the “Universe in a Sphere” was a representation of our universe inside a glass orb. What made it so awesome was that Steffin used an industrial laser to individually laser 380,000 dots into the glass, each one representing its own galaxy. The results were pretty darn great, and 4,000 units have subsequently sold.
Now, Steffin is back with a new Kickstarter project — and, in contrast to most sequels, this time he’s thinking smaller instead of bigger. That’s because, instead of focusing on the entire observable universe, he is re-creating the Milky Way as its own instantly recognizable 8-cm glass desk ornament.
“We learned a lot — like a lot lot — from the first campaign,” Steffin told Digital Trends. “How to get yourself motivated, how to be more structured, how to build a company, how the tax laws in Germany work, how to organize packing, shipping, and so on. I have the feeling that everything will be a bit easier this time around because we know so much more. Last time was a challenge, but we overcame the hurdles and made it a success.”
Steffin says that the goal of the project was to re-create the Milky Way as accurately as possible. Steffin and his brother started out by using data from European Space Agency missions, and then combined this with additional infrared data, stellar density data, pictures, photos, and more to create a 3D prototype. There are 200,000 lasered dots in all, and — at least from our layperson perspective — the results look pretty amazing.
While all the usual rules about crowdfunding risks apply, if you do decide to pledge money for the project you can get hold of a Milky Way sphere for prices starting at 49 euros ($60). Other options costing more come with gift boxes, LED base plates, 3D-printed display bases, and more. Shipping is set to take place in July.