Scorpius (β Scorpii)

I created this piece as an example for a project in my upcoming workshop on data-driven art, Making Space. The piece features the constellation Scorpius, with its stars represented in paper. The shape temperature of each star is represented by its color, its size the shape, and its magnitude (brightness) in size. Stars are fixed to different layers within the frame according to their distance from Earth, showing the depth of the constellation into the night sky. Unfortunately, it was very hard to photograph due to its multiple reflective layers! But it was fun to make.

My workshop is focused on using art as a tool to both explore and communicate scientific ideas and aimed at artists, makers, and educators. In this project, participants use an online planetarium to collect classification information about stars in their favorite constellation, and the steps teach them about different attributes of stars which they represent visually in different ways as they create a work of art. It models a technique in SciArt I like to call “information by representation”, where the attributes of the stars are represented by different shapes, sizes, and colors. It allows the artist to explore the property of stars in a way that is more interesting than reading a text book, and viewers to get a snapshot of the diversity of stars in night sky without having to understand the more scientific details. Projects like this can be utilized to offer a more creative and hands-on approach to learning at any education level. One of my workshop participants used this project in her undergrad astronomy class with great success and enthusiasm.