Vintage Style Astronomy Maps Made from Open Source Data of the Universe

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Geology of Mars (Click to enlarge)
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Biology graduate student Eleanor Lutz uses her spare time working on Tabletop Whale. This science illustration blog is an outlet for her creativity, allowing her to publish drawings, infographics, and data visualizations relating to science. Her latest project, Atlas of Space, is an exciting set of astronomy maps. Using open source datasets, she's designed incredibly artistic visualizations that have a vintage feel to them.

Attracted to the large quantities of data available within the astronomy community, Lutz mined organizations like NASA and the United States Geological Survey to pull together the maps. The graduate student benefitted from her knowledge of Python, a high-level programming language she uses for her Ph.D. research. Using the program, she was able to crunch the incredible quantities of open source data and transform it into something you'd want to hang on your wall.

Lutz has been working on the project for the past year and a half, just announcing it to the public in June 2019. Since then, she's been releasing a map each week. Every map is accompanied by an interesting explanation of how she achieved her results, as well as the sources used in the work.

The Atlas of Space is comprised of ten maps, including an orbit map of over 18,000 asteroids, a topographical map of Mars, a map of the constellations in the Western sky, and a map of the moon's geology. Rendered in stunning color to accompany the precise detail, Lutz's maps are an incredible way to visualize astronomy.

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Animated Earth showing cloud, sun, and Arctic ice patterns.

While there were some challenges along the way—she had to abandon an idea of doing a map for each planet when she realized not enough data existed for less well-explored planets like Uranus and Neptune—there were also some pleasant surprises.

“The most surprising part of the project was all of the help and advice offered by the astronomy community,” Lutz shared with My Modern Met. “I asked many astronomers for help with this project, and I was really happy to find that many scientists were willing to meet with me, or send me detailed tutorials or helpful articles over email.”

In the end, though design isn't her day job, Lutz's love for drawing and sketching has allowed to her gain an even deeper appreciation for the solar system. “I'm hoping to share my feeling that the solar system is a pretty amazing place, and that it's even more amazing that we understand so much about it.”

The Atlas of Space maps are also available for purchase.

Check out more of the impression astronomy maps from Atlas of Space.

Geology of the Moon Data Visualization

Geology of the Moon (Click to enlarge)

Geology of the Moon Data Visualization

Detail of geological map of the Moon.

Map of Constellations in the Western Hemisphere

Constellations in the Western hemisphere (Click to enlarge)

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Detail of constellation map of the Western hemisphere.

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Constellations from ancient cultures around the world (Click to enlarge)

These topographical maps of different planets and celestial bodies have a vintage flair.

Mercury Map Vintage Style

Topographical map pf Mercury

Mar Vintage Style Map

Topographical Map of Mars

Vintage Looking Map of the Moon

Topographical map of the Moon

Perhaps the most impressive map is this look at the orbit of everything in the solar system over 10 km.

Asteroid Data Visualization

Map of every known thing in the solar system bigger than 10 km (Click to enlarge)

This includes 18,000 asteroids and comets.

Asteroid Data Visualization

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Atlas of Space Asteroid Map

Asteroid Map

Atlas of Space Data Visualizations

Tabletop Whale: Website

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Eleanor Lutz.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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