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Work in Progress: 3D Stereoscopic Visualization as a Tool for Teaching Astronomy Concepts

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1698.1 - 22.1698.7



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Paper Authors


Norman Moses Joseph Purdue University

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Graduate Student,
Computer Graphics Technology,
Purdue University

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David M. Whittinghill Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16


Kathleen C. Howell Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Professor Howell is the Hsu Lo Professor of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering at Purdue University. Besides an active research program in Astrodynamics involving spacecraft mission planning and maneuver design, she teaches Orbital Mechanics and Attitude Dynamics for spacecraft applications.

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David William Braun Purdue University

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Work-in-Progress: 3D stereoscopic visualization as a tool for teaching astronomy concepts3D visualization is becoming a more extensively used educational tool. 3D visualization tends tobe most useful when demonstrating concepts involving the very large – such as astronomy, or thevery small – such as nanotechnology. Stereo visualization allows students to familiarizethemselves with worlds which are not available to experience in real life. The objective of thisstudy is to evaluate the educational benefit of teaching lessons involving a highly spatially-oriented topic (astronomy) using 3D visualization technology.We propose to use a stereo visualization system, installed in a classroom, to deploy 3Dsimulation packages for use in classroom instruction. This educational tool is currently beingused for two descriptive astronomy courses in the Physics department, which involvevisualization of the galaxies and the solar system, and also for two courses in the School ofAeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, which involve simulation of orbital patterns of planetsand satellites. These courses are taken by engineering students as well as students from otherdepartments.This study will use a 3D visualization tool developed to view the local universe containingvisualizations of the local group of galaxies and our solar system and will use stereographicprojection. We will investigate whether the higher degree of spatial perception in stereographicdisplays results in an improvement in student knowledge and understanding. This interactivesimulation allows the user to navigate through the local group of galaxies, looking at variousgalaxies in the group, navigating from one galaxy to another and measuring the distance betweengalaxies. The system will also allow the user to navigate in a visualization of our solar systemviewing the planets revolving around the sun. The objects in this system are kept to scale so thatthe students understand the large variation in sizes of objects found in the universe and allowthem to experience the velocity required to travel the distance between two objects, two planetsor even two galaxies, in space.Upon completion of the application, we will experimentally test whether using 3D stereoscopicvisualization results in greater understanding of the core concepts in our study’s astronomylessons.

Joseph, N. M., & Whittinghill, D. M., & Howell, K. C., & Braun, D. W. (2011, June), Work in Progress: 3D Stereoscopic Visualization as a Tool for Teaching Astronomy Concepts Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18435

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