First off, I can't thank the
Banneker and Aztlan Institutes
enough for letting me work with such fantastic and awesome students this summer! Being around
such amazing young scientists was truly wonderful and humbling. Below is an outline of the basic
materials I used for each day of classes. Feel free to use them for your own classes. I just ask
that you cite AstroBlend for all the materials and Tomer Nussbaum if you particularly use his stuff.
The material described here is for 4 days of 1.5 hours of classes. The students spent 9am-10:30am
working on computational skills (like those described here) and 10:30am - 12pm working on
astronomy course work, and the rest of the day was spent on research and working on their
presentations that are the culminating event for this program. For more information about the
program please visit their wonderful website!
Materials from each Session
The sessions are broken up into day pages with each day page generally containing introductory
lecture slides, a code section where various example codes for different projects are linked,
a resources section containing extra useful materials to be downloaded as well as external links
to other information about the topics we were exploring. There were occasionally other
instructions about methods and miscellaneous code for project extensions.
Computational Astrophysics Pre-Course
While not directly related to visualization, before the week of classes related to astrophysical
visualization the students worked on some computational problems so that they would have some
data sets to visualize. This included working with N-body systems (systems of objects which
interact with each other purely through the force of gravity), include calculating the stability
of planetary orbits, and the trajectories of star and gas particles during the mergers of
galaxies. The outline of the days and links to the materials for the day pages for this week
can be found under the "Day Pages: Computational Astrophysics" heading
Visualization Day 1: 2D Movies
During this session the students used the data they had generated from the previous computational
astrophysics week to make some trajectory plots in 2D with the open source tool
FFmpeg. A few
example movies are shown below. The code to make these movies is available on this day page.
Below are a few examples of planetary trajectory and galaxy merger movies.
Visualization Day 2: 2D Movies/3D Static Models
During this session the students continued making several two dimensional plots of their data and
started exploring generating static three dimensional models of their data. These static plots were then
extended to moving three dimensional visualizations during Day 3, as described below.
Visualization Day 3: 3D Interactive Movies on Sketchfab
During this session the students made three dimensional interactive movies and posted them
online using Sketchfab to share with the world! Below are some example movies. They also
started exploring their online models with a variety of virtual reality tools.
Below are two examples of the types of three dimensional visualizations the students created from their simulated data.
This day we had a little visualization party! The students shared their super cool models in
2D, 3D and within Virtual Reality. We also got a demo of some work that's being done to analyze
data in augmented reality with the Hololense from the
Below is a cool example of how to use the Hololense
to view astrophysical data.
In future posts I will outline in more detail some of the methods that were developed for
this program - in particular the methods needed to generate moving planet system models with
texture maps and create the necessary files to make interactive three dimensional movies in
Sketchfab out of astrophysical data. All of the code to do this is already shown in each of
the day pages for this week of Astrophysical Visualization, but some concepts would benefit
from going over them in more detail. If you can't wait, feel free to pursue the materials at
your own leisure and send me questions through the contact form!