Illustrating The Greats

For Chapter 6 of our project (Modern Astronomy) we included some of the most well known names in Science and how they contributed to astronomy.

To create these images I studied well known images of Einstein and Herschel and used the Adobe Illustrator Pen took to create separate shades of grey on multiple layers.

By importing them into flash as smart objects I can scale them to whatever size I want without loosing quality as they are still vectors. This made them ideal for motion tweening as scaling them up and down doesn’t cause them to become jagged looking.


Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton and Christiaan Huygen

As with all our chapter copy,  information is sourced from books, dvds and many many articles online, facts are checked and the outcome is all original.

Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630)

Johannes Kepler, a brilliant German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer became famed for his laws of planetary motion. Through observations and mathematics he tested the Copernican theory that the sun was the centre of the universe and not the earth as previously thought. Eventually with trial and error he proved the theory was correct, the planets did indeed travel around the sun.

Using calculations originating from his previous employer Tycho Brahe, as well as his own, he found that planets do not travel around the sun in perfect circles. Infact the orbits are oval – elliptical in shape.

Kepler famously published his three general principles describing the laws of planetary motion around the Sun.

The First was called the Elliptical Orbit Law:

The Orbit Laws stated that the motion of each planet is at an ellipse where the Sun is at one of the “two foci”. In plainer English this means that every planet moves in an elliptical shaped orbit with the sun at one focus of the ellipse.

The Second law is the Equal-Area Law:

In the Equal-Area Law, a line drawn between a planet and the sun, will cover equal areas over equal time as it continues its orbit.

The Third law is the Law of Periods:

This one is a little tricky to explain! The Period law states that the square of the orbital movement of a planet is relative to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit. This means the amount of time it takes a planet to orbit the sun is directly proportional to that planets distance from the sun.

Isaac Newton later used Kepler’s laws of gravity motion to help him devise his own theories of universal gravitation.

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Galileo, an influential Italian astronomer, physicist and philosopher played a massive role in the Scientific Revolution and made many improvements to the telescope. He is now known as the father of modern observational astronomy, the father of modern physics and also the father of science.

The worlds first telescope is generally credited to lens maker Hans Lippershey in 1608 (though this sometimes disputed). However, without seeing an example, Galilei heard about this “Dutch perspective glass” and subsequently invented a better telescope. Galileo used this telescope to study the planets and made many astronomical discoveries. Carefully observing the sun, he realized that there were dark patches on it, which we now call sunspots. He also used the telescope to confirm the phases of the planet Venus and discovered the the four largest moons of the planet Jupiter (now named the Galilean moons)

Galileo was met with strong opposition from the church for his championing of the Copernican/Heliocentric theory that the sun was at the centre of the solar system. They condemned heliocentric views as “false and contrary to Scripture so he forced to publically withdraw his beliefs.  When he later published his work “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” which compared the Copernican system with the older Ptolemaic system, he was found guilty of heresy and after first being sentenced to life imprisonment, spent his final years under house arrest

Galileo continued to write and although he was by now going blind he published  ‘Discourses Concerning Two New Sciences’ 1638. A book about kinematics and the strength of materials which later received great praise from Albert Einstein.

Other famous discoveries were the rate at which a pendulum swings depends on its length and not on the distance through which it swings. This led to the development of the law of the pendulum, which was eventually used to help develop clocks. He also invented other instruments such as a thermometer and a military compass.

Isaac Newton (1643 – 1727)

Isaac Newton, an English physicist and mathematician is one of greatest scientists of all time. Best known for his Laws of Motions and the Law of Gravitation, his book “The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” is perhaps the most influential science book ever published which showed that gravity applied to all objects in the universe.

Newton with his theory of gravity, inspired by a falling apple, discovered how the universe was held to together. Nicolaus Copernicus and Johannes Kepler had previously known about gravity but Newton realized Gravity holds the universe together and that there is a gravitational force between all objects and heavenly bodies. There is a force between you and the Sun for example but it is too far away for its influence to be strong. The force between large objects although greater, becomes less the further away an object is.

Newton provided mathematical confirmation for Kepler’s three laws of planetary motion and together with his own gravitation theory helped remove the last doubts that the sun was the centre of the solar system.

The First Law:

The law on Inertia means that there is a tendency of all objects to maintain their state of motion unless compelled to change by an external influence.

The Second Law:

Newton’s second law of motion states that the acceleration of an object is dependent upon two things, the net force acting upon the object and the mass of the object.
The greater the mass of an entity being accelerated, then the greater the amount of force needed to accelerate it.

The Third Law:

Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction so if an object applies a force to a second object, then the second object applies an equal and directly opposite force on the first one.

He also conducted many experiments using light and discovered that white light is composed of all the colours of the spectrum and is given partial credit for the developing the calculus – a method of calculation.

Christiaan Huygens (1629 – 1695)

Huygens, a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and physicist was, after Isaac Newton, the greatest scientist of the 1600s. He made important advancements in many areas and with his powerful telescope, was able to correctly identify the true of the nature of the rings of Saturn, before this they were thought to be arms of Saturn. He also detected its moon Titan.

Responding to Newtons theory of light, Huygens stated that light consists of waves and he also enormously helped with the understanding of wave-particle duality. To describe this complex matter briefly, wave–particle duality is a concept in Quantum physics that matter and light display behaviors of both waves and particles.

In a 1673 book entitled “Horologium Oscillatorium” about his analysis of pendulums, he also suggests important principles of gravity and ‘centrifugal force’. For example, an object moving in a circle acts as if it is experiencing an external influence known as the centrifugal force.  Huygens is credited with this discovery.

Inspired by Galileos investigations of pendulums, he learned a great about them and built the very first accurate pendulum clock. He also made many other studies in timekeeping, optics, the calculus and sound perception.


Renaissance pt 2, chapter 5

It’s almost over! I am so happy that a year of working hard would give as an enormous satisfaction. I tried to count how many hours I spent on that project… 150h, I guess. I was literally glued to my desk!  But this is it, fifth chapter is almost done, now we just need to add a navigation and test it. In this chapter we have Sir Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler.


Copernicus and Brahe

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

Copernicus, a Polish astronomer made a great many contributions to the world of mathematics and astronomy but became best known for his heliocentric theory. Copernicus claimed that it that was the Sun and not the Earth that lay at the centre of the universe, ideas which were in stark contrast to the view held by the church at the time.

The church had been greatly influenced by the beliefs and ideas that Greek astronomy had founded and refused to believe this to be true. Although not a new idea as similar theories had been proposed and rejected earlier, Copernicus was the first to create a complete prototype and devised the famous Copernican system. A heliocentric model worked out in great mathematical detail. Some of the ideas put forward by Copernicus were revolutionary, as he sought to make sense of previous models and proposed that the Earth rotates on a daily axis and revolves around the Sun yearly.

Due to his fear of the church his views were never announced to a wider audience until his later years as to publicly go against the church at that time could lead to imprisonment or even death! Therefore in order to avoid persecution it was not until Copernicus lay on his deathbed that his book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies” was published. A move which revolutionized the way we look at astronomy and paved the way for others to further his observations!

Tycho Brahe (1546 1601)

Brahe was a well-known Danish astronomer famed for his precise astronomical observations and introduced his own universal model, the Tychonic system. This he saw as a model that combined both the mathematical ideas of the newer Copernican system as well as the philosophical ideas of the even older Ptolemaic system, that the Earth was the centre of the universe.

Using only a compass and a sextant, which was used to measure the position of the objects in the sky, he made many accurate recordings and put together an astonishing star catalogue of over 1000 stars.

His improvement of tools and the accuracy of his catalogues was significant. He built his own observatory and as this was before the telescope was invented, designed many accurate instruments to help measure the position and movement of many stars, planets and comets. One invention was the Tyconian Quadrant. Fixed to a wall it could measure the altitude of a heavenly body above the horizon.

Brahe realized that comets were not just objects in the atmosphere but actually travelled through space and also noticed there were a number of irregularities in the moons orbit. As Johannes Kepler later worked as his assistant, Kepler would eventually use crucial data from Brahe’s work as the foundation for his own future laws of planetary motion.

Edwin Hubble, Chapter 7

Chapter 7 of our project details the discoveries of Edwin Hubble. For this chapter I created Hubble himself  as well as the Palomar Mountain observatory in Illustrator. This is the one of the observatories where Hubble  carried out his work. When the user enters the observatory they can look through the telescope to view images taken by the telescope.

The Chapter will contain animations which help explain Hubble’s discoveries, such as how he discovered that our Universe is constantly expanding.


The Aboriginal Creation and Norse myth

New content – written to be added to the site. The Norse myth was particularly difficult to condense and write!

The Aboriginal Creation myth
For the Aboriginals, creation myths and spirits still play large roles in day-to-day life as they realize that nature must not be taken for granted and holds a unique bond with the Great Spirit.

Creation myths are known are Dreamtime, songlines and Aboriginal oral literature. Many stories vary, and there is no single creation story among Aboriginal people.
However as with several ancient Creation stories, they mostly begin with the emergence of light out of darkness and end with the formation of creatures. One creation myth details that in the beginning, the world was in utter darkness with no living creatures on the earth. The father of all spirits decided to awaken the Sun mother with the request that she take her light to earth and rouse the sleeping spirits to give them form.

As the Sun mother walked across the bare earth, vegetation appeared and from the dark caves came insects. Heat from her rays began to melt ice in deeper caves and from this water, rivers and streams were formed.
Almost finished, she next created the smaller animals from the sleeping spirits before returning back to the sky to become the sun

After first living in harmony the creatures began to argue so each was given the power to change into any other animal – which gave rather odd results!  Worried this would anger the father of all spirits she decided to create more creatures. She gave birth to two children – the Morning Star and the moon. Two further children were born to these and sent to earth to became the Aboriginal ancestors.  As they held part of her own mind these were more superior to the other creatures and wouldn’t want to change theirs shapes!

Norse mythology

In Norse mythology there were 9 worlds divided into 3 levels. It’s a rather fascinating story full of elves, giants and gods but for now let us only provide a brief overview.
In the beginning there was nothing but an empty void named Ginnungagap which was bordered by fire on one side and ice on the other. In the area where the two sides met, a giant was formed named Ymir, as well as a cow – Audhumla, created to nourish the giant. The cow survived only by licking salty ice and it was while licking ice that Buri the first man came to be.

Buri, had a son, Bor. Bor  fathered 3 sons with Bestla, the daughter of a Frost Giant and these sons became the first gods Odin, Vili, and Vé! Odin and his brothers killed the giant Ymir causing his blood to become the sea, which spilled across the land killing most of the frost giants. With various pieces of Ymir’s corpse, the brothers formed the earth. The sky was created from the skull and held in place by 4 dwarves named North, East, South and west.

Using ash driftwood found on a seashore, the giants created a man named Ask and from a fallen elm tree they created a woman named Embla. Each brothers gave them different abilities and this new world became known as Midgard/Middle earth. However Midgard had to fortressed against hostile giants using Ymir’s eyebrows!

Asgard (also known as Troy) became the home of the gods and was only accessible via a rainbow bridge. In Asgard , Odin, by now the chief of the gods sat in the high seat at Hlidskjálf, from where ruled the universe.
Valhalla in Asgard, was a famous great hall was where those who died in combat travelled to feast as heroes upon death, while those who died naturally instead of in battle went to hel. Hel – the Norse underworld was also the name of the goddess of the dead!

Perhaps you’ve heard of Thor and his mighty hammer? Well Thor was a war god and  was second in importance to Odin, his father.  His trusty hammer Mjǫlnir would be able to strike anything he aimed at  – never failing!


Egyptian Text

Early Egyptian Astronomy

Egyptian astronomy was extremely sophisticated and their studies of the heavens became heavily linked with religion and priesthood. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the Egyptian priests with developing mathematics, as it is from here that Greek mathematicians learned this science when it became the foundation for their own cosmology.
As the yearly flooding of the Nile was the basis of early Egyptian civilization and farming, calculating when it would occur became the motivating force behind developing Egyptian astronomy.

Nabta Playa

Nabta Playa is a megalithic (stone) circle Egypt dating from the 5th Millennium BC which some believe to be the world’s oldest astronomical observatory!!
Situated 800 kilometers south of modern day Cairo, it predates Stonehenge by thousands of years and as it’s situated on the Tropic of Cancer the stones cast no shadow for several minutes during the summer solstice.
Astrophysicist Thomas Brophy proposes that the circle was created as an early star alignment map, to record astronomical events. The lines of three of the stones inside the circle are thought to mirror the three stars in the constellation Orion’s Belt while another three stones denote the shoulders and head stars of Orion.
Well, as the constellation would have appeared between the periods 6400 to 4900 B.C!

Another theory is that the circle is also a primitive calendar to mark time which would also have been useful in predicted the coming of the floods and important agricultural events. At present, although the western Egyptian desert is completely dry, this would not have been the case in the past.

The Pyramids

There are many theories concerning the pyramids. Some believe that the great pyramids of Giza were built to align with the 3 stars of Orion’s belt.
Astronomers have found many connections between both. For example, like the constellation, their relation to each other is not perfectly aligned and the smallest is slightly offset to the East.

If the architects of these amazing structures were indeed aware of the significance of the layout, the location of the pyramids in relation to the Nile is also a reproduction of Orion’s orientation to the Milky Way.

Similar features have also been noted in pyramids throughout the world – in China and South America.