The Planets – The Science Behind The Imagery

First of all, I’d like to thank you for attending The Planets. Doing this piece is an amazing experience for me both as an artist and has an astronomy nut, and it’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to share it with you. Now, on to some of the specifics of the imagery that you saw in the show.

A very substantial portion of the imagery is material I created using SkySkan’s  amazing software DigitalSky 2. This is the same software that runs digital planetariums all over the world. It basically gives me a 3-D model of the universe inside the computer, and I’m able to move time forward and backward at different rates and fly a “virtual camera” through the model. Most of the imagery in the show that has a star field in the background was created in this way.

The rest of the imagery came from a wide range of NASA missions, and that’s what we’ll talk about here.

To learn about the planets themselves, I would start here:


All of the still images of Mars are pictures taken by one of the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.

You can learn about the rovers at their homepage:

The other particularly cool piece that I use in this movement is a video.  This is a flight through the Valles Marineris,  the “Grand Canyon”  of Mars.   It is the grandest of grand canyons in the solar system. It is 10 times longer, 5 times deeper, and 20 times wider  than the Grand Canyon here on earth. The video is a flight through a 3-D model created using data from NASA’s Mars Odyssey mission, which is a satellite orbiting Mars. Check out this page from the folks who made the video, you can also download and watch the whole thing. (I only use a small excerpt from it in the show.)

well, there are six more planets in the show

but I’ve now run out of time to talk about them.

I’ll have the rest of the information up sometime in the next week or so, and if you just fill in your name and e-mail address below, I’ll let you know when it’s up. Of course, I’ll keep your name e-mail address confidential. I hate spam, so no one  is going to get e-mail addresses from me.

Well, thanks for checking out this page. If you have comments about it, or about the show, I’d love to hear from you. E-mail me at, and thanks.