Art of astronomy final project iu bloomington

Final Imaging Project – Overview

Learning goals:

Students should be able to…

  • Create or design an aesthetically pleasing visualization of an astronomical topic
  • Apply astronomical imaging skills to an independent project
  • Synthesize concepts presented in lecture to complete an astronomically relevant imaging project
  • Describe in their own words the source and relevance of the image(s) used in the project


  • Due Friday, Feb. 8: A description of what you plan to do for your project submitted via Canvas.  Your plan should include enough detail that the scope and content of your project can be evaluated.  Your description should state clearly what the topic of your project will be, why you are choosing it, what images you will create, how you plan to obtain the images needed for the project, and what the form of your project will be – a poster, slideshow, an original color image, etc.  Include a timeline with milestones for your work on the final project so that you will be able to track your own progress.  Remember that most final projects should be submitted as single PDF files and must contain original, digital images.  It should be possible to describe your project in no more than 250 words.  100 words is probably too few for the level of detail expected.
  • Due Friday, March 22:  A draft of your project, submitted via Canvas, including drafts of the digital images you are creating.  Also describe the work that still needs to be completed. Your draft project should include enough detail that your progress can be evaluated. Be sure to identify the sources of the images you are using.  With additional text, evaluate your progress in meeting the timeline submitted with the project plan. It should be possible to describe your progress in no more than 250 words.  100 words is probably too few for the level of detail expected.  (Hint: review the grading rubric to see how your project measures up…)
  • Due Friday, April 26: Your final project, submitted via Canvas. Most projects should be submitted as a single PDF file.  You may also upload jpg files of your original images.

Project Grade

The project is worth 35% of your grade in this course, 20% for the project itself and 5% for the project plan and 10% for the preliminary draft. Projects will be evaluated according to the following rubric.  Reviewing the rubric is highly recommended since the project counts for a big fraction of your grade!

ProjectRubric.pdfPreview the document

Project Guidelines

Your project must include

  • Digital images you have created yourself. The source of all raw images used for the project should be appropriately identified and credited.  For images you have photographed yourself, include the time, date, and location where each image was taken.  Use of data without appropriate attribution is a violation of IU’s academic code of conduct.
  • Text that describes your motivation for choosing the project, the concept or idea portrayed in the project, and how the idea is instantiated in the project or an explanation of what the images convey.
  • Text that explains clearly what or how you have learned about astronomy through your project.
  • An evaluation of your images using the aesthetic principles discussed in class and described in Chapter 12 of the text.

Most projects should be submitted as a single PDF document via Canvas, and include both your final image(s) and text.   IF you need some other format, please discuss it in advance with the instructor.

The form of your project is up to you, so long as it can be made into a PDF file.  A poster, a website, an annotated image, a slide show, a travelogue, an illustrated blog or journal, or even a simple document with images… 

Caution:  This assignment is an IMAGING PROJECT that requires you to create original color images of astronomical sources.  IT IS NOT AN ILLUSTRATED REPORT OR PAPER.  Students who submit reports or papers that are illustrated with images from the web will be disappointed in their grades!

Project Ideas

  • Use the images provided to create original color images of astronomical sources on a particular theme.  You may also be able to find appropriate images on the web to create new, color images.
  • Take your own digital images of phenomena in the sky and use them to demonstrate and explain the phenomena we observe.
    • Sunsets or sunrises throughout the semester to track the Sun’s apparent motion in the sky
    • Star-trail images showing the apparent motion of the stars around Polaris or across the sky
    • Satellite trails when the International Space Station passes across the sky
    • Night sky images of the Milky Way (requires a dark site!)         
    • Astronomical objects with amateur telescopes (Jupiter’s moons? Saturn’s rings? Close-ups of the Moon?)  (Actually we don’t recommend photographing the Moon – It’s difficult to do, and even more difficult to do well.  Most students who try a project involving the Moon or its phases do not succeed.)
  • Other phenomena of interest – aurorae, the green flash, meteor trails, glories, Sun dogs and halos.  Some of these phenomena are rare here in Indiana, so have a backup plan! Your images must be original!
  • Create new, original images to illustrate an astronomical concept in digital form –The Universe is big, and so are the possibilities – the Milky Way, star formation, the expansion of space, dark matter, supernovae, black holes, the sky’s the limit!
  • For those of you interested in Big Data, use tools from Informatics to create a new visualization of a large astronomical data set.
  • Create a novel artistic interpretation of some aspect of the course that intrigues you, using astronomical images you have created or manipulated.
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