Ridwan Haque and Emre Aliya's Story

See Simulating Solar/Lunar Eclipse for the latest progress on the development of the Eclipse simulation.

Last updated on 03/10/2024

Teaching astronomy poses formidable challenges as students often struggle to visualize and grasp complex astronomical concepts, and conventional teaching approaches frequently fail to engage students effectively, resulting in persistent misconceptions about some astrophysical phenomena. To overcome these obstacles and foster deeper student engagement and comprehension, we are developing a series of innovative 3D simulations characterized by their scientific accuracy, immersive nature, visual appeal, and modular design. Our approach combines cutting-edge 3-D modeling engines such as Blender, Unreal Engine, and Unity to construct a lifelike simulation of the solar system and night sky encompassing phenomena like Eclipses, Tides, Parallax, and Seasonal Constellations. Drawing on planetary models and data sourced from NASA's VTAD, our simulation currently provides a functional model with plans for further refinement, including enhancements to features such as illumination phases of objects, shadow movements, atmospheric effects, and the accurate Earth-Moon-Sun System. Collaborating closely with instructors of courses such as ASTR1010, ASTR1110, and ASTR2030L, we intend to assess the efficacy of our 3D simulations through think-aloud interviews to solicit invaluable feedback. Future enhancements will involve the implementation of the fine control of the simulations through Python scripts and interactive GUI elements like an observation time selector, customizable lighting settings, and a set of different viewing cameras for real-time data visualization. Furthermore, we aim to broaden the accessibility of our simulation by integrating it into various virtual reality platforms, including the META Quest 3D.

Some scenes from older version of the model

Setting of the solar/lunar eclipses in Blender Setting of the solar/lunar eclipses in Blender
Setting of the solar/lunar eclipses in Blender Setting of the solar/lunar eclipses in Blender
Planetary models are from NASA Visualization Technology Applications And Development (VTAD).