In the ancient world, astronomers developed geometrical models to account for the motion of the celestial bodies. The earth constituting the center of the universe, they imagined the planets to be located on rotating spheres around it, whose nested movement creates the individual path of the astronomical objects.
The intricate designs of the ancient astronomical models prove difficult to grasp from their verbal descriptions and illustrations alone, but become very evident by means of digital 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”.
With my project Modeling the Cosmos, I want to take digital approaches in the history of astronomy one step further. Key concepts in Digital Humanities 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.
My aim is to provide the history of astronomy with an Digital Research Environment to recreate astronomic systems from the historical accounts. With my tool, I seek to enable the researcher to interactive explore the options and constraints of the historic sources.
In this function, the digital simulation 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.