About these pages
Images and mosaics
Cassini stuff (mostly outdated)
Planetary rendering tips
Copyright and legal stuff
International Association of Astronomical Artists
|Welcome to my website! These pages are devoted to astronomy and 3D
computer graphics, particularly renderings and maps of the planets and satellites of our
solar system and the spacecraft that have explored them. Many of the renderings are done
with a specialized planetary renderer I wrote for this purpose. The goal behind this is
for the renderings to be as similar as possible to spacecraft photos. Other renderings are
created with POV-Ray or by combining renderings from
my renderer and POV-Ray. There are also several planetary maps at this site which you can
download and use in your own renderings.
If anyone uses the maps/models available here
I'm interested in knowing about it (I'm interested in
planetary art/science as you may have guessed by now). Finally, if you have any special
opinions on this stuff let me know.
- 15.04.2012: A fairly big update. Completely revamped the animations page, it is now mostly a collection of links to
YouTube and Vimeo where I now store my animations. The animations include a spectacular
flight over Saturn's satellite Enceladus among other things. Added a spectacular new
Voyager 2 mosaic of Jupiter's Great Red Spot to the Images and
mosaics page. Added several new renderings of Mimas and Enceladus to the Saturn page. They are created using very high
resolution digital elevation models I'm working on. Added a global
DEM of Io that is mostly fictional; the position of Io's major mountains should be
- 17.04.2011: Updated the Images and mosaics
section a bit by replacing a Voyager 2 global view of Jupiter with a bigger and
significantly improved version. I also added huge Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 mosaics of
Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Apparently the Voyager 1 mosaic is what's best known of all of
my work here so far.
- 31.01.2010: Added two new renderings of
Mars. They are a big improvement over old ones. Despite this I left the old renderings
there for the time being because it is interesting to compare the new renderings to the
old ones. The old ones will be removed sometime in the future. Thanks to more powerful
computers, better software, new spacecraft data and a lot of work the new ones are a huge
improvement over the roughly 10 year old stuff they supersede.
- 04.01.2010: Added two new renderings to the the Earth/Moon page showing the Earth together with the Moon.
This is the first time I have been able to get nice renderings of the Moon at fairly high
resolution, thanks to a recently released digital elevation model (DEM) derived from data
from Japan's Kaguya spacecraft. Minor changes to the links page.
- 03.10.2009: Replaced everything on the Earth/Moon
page with new stuff done using a new and greatly improved version of my planetary
renderer. The old renderings were done back in 1998 and 1999 and were awfully primitive
compared to what I'm doing today. The new ones have proper atmospheric effects, a cloud
map, specular reflections from the oceans etc. I'm not completely happy with the new
renderings, the Earth is probably the most difficult planet to render (in particular I
need a better cloud map). Also my atmospheric model is still under development. Despite
this I'm replacing everything because the old stuff really was too bad to keep it here.
Now the next step is to replace the almost 10 year old renderings of Mars with vastly
improved versions with proper atmospheric effects etc. (in fact there is a lot of old
stuff here that really needs to be replaced). Also minor updates to the links section (which really needs a major overhaul).
- 11.08.2009: Added two renderings to the Saturn page showing the Cassini spacecraft near
the moment of Saturn's equinox which occurs today.
- 24.06.2009: Again no, this page isn't dead ;-). A lot of time has been
spent processing Cassini data and this update reflects this fact. I now have an almost
global digital elevation model (DEM) of Rhea. Updated the experimental renderings page with information on
this DEM of Rhea. Also added a new color and albedo map of
Rhea. This map is unusual because the goal was to show color and albedo - not
topography. Finally I added two new renderings to the Saturn page and also replaced a few old ones with
new versions. There is a lot of photogenic stuff to render in the Saturn system once I
have more and better models of its satellites - the plan is to build DEMs of all of
Saturn's icy satellites...
- 26.07.2008: No, this page isn't dead. It's just that I've been terribly
busy processing Cassini data and other stuff - I just love being swamped in data. The
first fruit of this work now appears: An updated map of
Saturn based on Cassini data. For the southern hemisphere the improvement is big but
the northern hemisphere is still based on Voyager data since it has been largely in shadow
for most of Cassini's mission. Actually I finished this map a while ago but I recently
improved it a bit. More stuff involving the Saturn system, Io, Venus and Mercury should
appear sometime in the next several months plus a lot of experimental stuff based on DEMs
(digital elevation models) of Saturn's satellites derived from stereo images.
- 13.03.2007: Added several renderings involving Rayleigh scattering and
atmospheric refraction to the experimental
renderings page. Replaced several renderings on the Saturn page with improved versions and added two
new ones. These new images are rendered using a very high resolution map of Saturn based
Cassini images that I recently finished. The photometric parameters for Saturn and the
rings have also been significantly improved. More renderings will be replaced soon.
- 30.09.2006: Replaced all of the renderings
of Venus with new versions and added two new ones showing the Galileo and Cassini
flybys. The old ones were done back in 1999 so the new ones are a significant improvement,
for example the color and contrast is more realistic. The new renderings are the first
ones at this site (except for some experimental renderings) done with my renderer using
Rayleigh scattering. Despite this I am not completely convinced my code is working
correctly in all cases. Narrow, dark areas appear near the poles in some cases. While I
can understand why they appear from the way my renderer works they may be too prominent or
should possibly not be there at all - I don't remember seeing similar features in
spacecraft photos. Now all that is left is to replace most of the renderings of Saturn and
all of the renderings of the Earth, Mercury and Mars...
- 23.09.2006: Added two new renderings to the Saturn page and replaced two of the old ones.
These are the first renderings incorporating Cassini results and/or data and should be
more realistic than the old ones, especially the unlit side of the rings. Once I have
updated my Saturn texture map and improved my renderer a bit I will replace everything on
the Saturn page with improved stuff (in
particular, the old renderings showing Mimas are bad).
- 28.05.2006: Added a new rendering of Saturn to the experimental renderings page. It shows an attempt to simulate
the bluish color of Saturn's winter hemisphere discovered by Cassini. The photometric
parameters used for rendering Saturn have also been refined based on Cassini images. In
the coming months I will probably replace almost everything on the Saturn page with something better. Minor changes
to a few pages.
- 27.03.2006: Added a new map of
Jupiter based on images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This map is of higher
resolution than my older Voyager 2 map and it is of
somewhat higher quality. Since the Cassini imaging science team released a new map of Jupiter today it seemed
appropriate for me to do so too ;-).
- 16.03.2006: Replaced four renderings on the Jupiter
page with improved versions. The new versions are rendered using my new texture map
that is based on Cassini images of Jupiter. This map is of higher resolution than my older
Voyager 2 map so the improvement is significant since these renderings include closeups of
Jupiter's dynamic atmosphere.
- 05.02.2006: Added a rendering
of Jupiter to the experimental renderings page. It is
rendered using a very high resolution map of Jupiter based on Cassini images that I
recently finished. This map is 50% bigger than my Voyager
2 map and its quality is better. Also added renderings
of Amalthea to the experimental renderings page. They
are rendered using a 3D model of Amalthea I am working on. Added two new renderings of
Amalthea to the Jupiter page and updated an old one where
Amalthea is visible. These may improve in the future since I am still working on the
Amalthea model. Where Jupiter is visible it is rendered using the new texture map. I may
soon replace more renderings on the Jupiter page thanks to
the new map and software improvements. Also I am getting unhappy with many of the
renderings on the Saturn page thanks to the
flood of spectacular Cassini images.
- 01.11.2005: Added several images of Mars to the astronomy
- 06.05.2005: Added three renderings of the Earth to the experimental renderings page. They show experiments involving
Rayleigh scattering in my PT3RT renderer - experiments that are still not completely
successful but they look promising.
- 21.02.2005: Added a preliminary map of Enceladus to the Cassini page. It is based on three images from
Cassini's T3 flyby.
- 12.02.2005: Added a rendering showing ringshine on Saturn's nightside
to the experimental renderings page. This looks much more
realistic than rendering the nightside either completely black or with ambient light of
uniform intensity. The success of this experiment means that soon I'll replace several
renderings on the Saturn page.
- 05.02.2005: Added new page
containing Cassini-related stuff, including preliminary maps of some of the icy
satellites. This is a preliminary page that should change a lot in the coming
weeks/months. Updated and rearranged stuff in the links section.
Minor updates to a few pages.
- 03.01.2005: Added an experimental Saturn ringshine map to the experimental renderings page. This is an attempt to simulate
ringshine on Saturn's nightside.
- 10.10.2004: Added a color profile to the Saturn ring profile page. It is based on a recent
Cassini spacecraft image. Updated, renamed and reorganized the Copyright
and legal stuff page and made it easier to read.
- 09.09.2004: Added some stuff to the astronomy page,
including a separate What's new page.
- 28.08.2004: Completely revamped the astronomy page
and added a lot of new stuff there. More images will be added in the coming weeks, I have
a lot of stuff that I haven't processed yet.
- 05.06.2004: It suddenly occurred to me that it might be possible to
create a fake bump/elevation map of Callisto from a grayscale texture map that would
enable me to get much better renderings of the terminator (day-night boundary) area. This
became a spectacularly successful experiment, especially in view of the fact that it took
less than 15 minutes ! As a result I have updated a few Callisto renderings on the Jupiter page. One remaining problem is that faint seams are
visible in several areas in the bump map. I plan to fix this and update at least one of
the Callisto renderings again in the near future.
- 30.05.2004: Added several renderings to the Saturn page. They show NASA's Cassini spacecraft near the time of the
rocket burn that will slow it down, enabling it to get captured by Saturn's gravity and
start orbiting the ringed planet. More Cassini related stuff will be added in the coming
- 26.04.2004: Added several renderings of Mars' Gusev crater to the experimental renderings page. This is the landing site of
NASA's Spirit rover.
- 23.04.2004: No updates recently, I've been busy moving all of my stuff
to a new computer. The old one became completely swamped with video data when I started
imaging the planets with a webcamera (see the astronomy page which
BTW needs to be updated ASAP) but now I have a 3 GHz machine with 1.5 GB of RAM and 370 GB
of diskspace. However, this is a fairly significant update, I replaced the model of
Saturn's rings with a completely new version which
is of higher resolution and where the positional accuracy is much better. Minor updates to
the links section.
- 29.01.2004: Updated the spacecraft
page by replacing all renderings of the Cassini spacecraft with new ones. These show a
version of my model of the spacecraft that is very close to what the final version will
look like. Colors and textures may change a little but the 'geometric modeling' is
- 01.01.2004: Added a new section, Astronomy. This
section will contain amateur astronomy stuff, mainly my observations of solar system
bodies. At the moment there's not much there except for a mosaic of the Moon and images of
my telescope and camera.
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