Modeling the Cosmos

Creating a Digital Research Environment for the History of Astronomy

November 2017


In the ancient world, astronomers developed geometrical models to account for the motion of the celestial bodies. The earth being in the center of the universe, they imagined the planets to be located on rotating spheres around it, whose nested movement create the individual path of the astronomical objects.

Their intricate design proves difficult to grasp from verbal descriptions and illustrations, but becomes very evident by means of modeling and visualization. With today’s technology, we have the possiblity to represent pre-modern astronomy in the way it was originally conceived – as “geometry in motion”.

Ancient Astronomy


With my project Modeling the Cosmos, I want to take digital approaches in the history of astronomy one step further. Key concepts in contemporary computing are interactivity and real-time simulation, coming together in the form of encompassing digital environments.

The innovation of my project lies in the creation of such an intuitive research environment for the history of astronomy – technically fit to host planetary models from the ancient systems up to Keplers laws.

Ancient Astronomy


My aim is to provide the history of astronomy with an environment to recreate astronomic systems from historical accounts and interactively explore the options and constraints of the historic sources.

In this function, the virtual environment will aid in the reconstruction of lesser known historical astronomical models, whose functioning is only partially understood, such as the geometrical designs of Giovanni Amico, Girolamo Fracastoro or the Arab astronomer Al-Bitruji.

Ancient Astronomy

See also