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ISSUE 12 - May 2012

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Visualising Astronomy: Visualising Exoplanets (pages 37-38)
Ryan Wyatt

Key Words
Visual Communication, Astronomy Visualisation

In my previous column1, I described some of the varied means of diagramming the data about exoplanets and exoplanetary systems. Frankly, however, those methods don’t do justice to the bigger picture: we need a wider range of tools to help people grok2 (to understand intuitively) what astronomical observations have revealed. (Normally, I use the term “visualisation” to refer to the visual representation of data, but I’m going to relax that a little in this context; instead, I’ll interpret the word in its more commonplace usage of creating a mental image.) How can we help people comprehend the scope, the breadth, and the impact of the spectacular observations of planets around other stars?