A new Google Chrome workshop virtually reproduces 100,000 nearby stars in just one tab in your web browser. The term "nearby" in this context being relative, of course.
The visualization can be accessed here, and it's a really effective gateway to procrastination. You can zoom in past Barnard's Star or Alpha Cassiopeiae on your way to the Sun. Or you can click the discreet "take a tour" icon in the top right corner of the screen for an educational presentation that begins with the Sun and then pans out, putting everything in perspective, such as the actual distance of the Voyager-1 from Earth or the proximity of other stars to the Sun. And it's all done with some eery music playing in the background, of course.
Google credits Wikipedia for the star renderings and for images of the galaxy, along with several observatories. Images of the Sun were provided by NASA and several other science teams, while researchers and agencies from across the world chipped in data on the stars. Oh, and if you recognize the music, then you must have played Mass Effect; Google tapped Sam Hulick, who scored the video game, for the accompanying soundtrack, which, while perfectly ominous for the scene it accompanies, can get to be a little much for those who keep the tab open for too long while trying to write a blog post about it.
As I mentioned, it's a great, almost literal escape for the middle of the workday. But for those who would nitpick the project for accuracy, Google was one step ahead with a disclaimer:
Warning: Scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. Please do not use this visualization for interstellar navigation.