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Tactile Sculptures

Solar System Project 1

Solar System Project 1 - Overview

Recently I was accepted as a Journeyman Member of the IAAA – International Association of Astronomical Artists. During various “get to know you” email conversations I was inspired to start a new tactile sculpture. The intent of SSP1 is to make available to all people, sighted or not, the sense of wonder of our Solar System’s scale and distances.

The upper and lower thirds illustrate the physical sizes of our planets, from Mercury to Neptune, and including Pluto and Charon. The outline of our Sun is on the left side as a size reference.

The middle portion illustrates the distances between the planets. Again, the sun is the reference. Here sizes are only approximate, but relative distances are to scale.

Principal moons of all planets are also shown to size scale, not distance.

The bottom right has a locator map of our approximate location within the Milky Way Galaxy.

The big green button activates a Sonification. The sound of a grand piano represents the planets. The bigger the planet, the lower the pitch. The principal moons are represented by a String Synth. The background drone is a tenor sax, dropped an octave. This sound is generated from a brightness cross-section of our Sun.

The base of the sculpture is MDF, backed with plywood. The frame is Spalted Maple. The corner joints were created with software by Tailmaker – Gert Burkhardt. All machining was done on a CanCam D23M CNC router. The finish is multiple coats of EcoPoxy FloCast epoxy, with the final flood coats done with UVPoxy.

The sonification was inspired and created with code by Matt Russo of SYSTEM Sounds. Images are from NASA.

Solar System Project 1 - Upper Left
SSP1 – Upper Left
Solar System Project 1 - Upper Middle
SSP1 – Upper middle with Maker’s Mark
Solar System Project 1 - Upper Right
SSP1 – Upper Right
Solar System Project 1 - Lower Right
SSP1 – Locator and Signature
Solar System Project 1 - Lower Middle
SSP1 – Sonification Activation Button
Solar System Project 1 - Lower Left
SSP1 – Lower Left
Solar System Project 1 - Left Perspective
SSP1 – Left Overview
Solar System Project 1 - Right Perspective
SSP1 – Right Overview