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Dagstuhl Seminar 19262

Astrographics: Interactive Data-Driven Journeys through Space

( Jun 23 – Jun 26, 2019 )

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The visual language spans across borders of knowledge, experience, age, gender, and culture, which makes it an effective form of expression in scientific data analysis workflows as well as in communication of science to broad audiences. The goal of this small Dagstuhl Seminar is to bring together researchers from computer science with content producers, learning and communication experts, astronomers and astrophysicists, with the mission to shape the emerging field of interactive visualization in space exploration and astronomy - Astrographics.

Until now there has been a clear division between visualization enabling scientific discovery (exploratory visualization) and visual representations used to explain and communicate science to a general audience (explanatory visualization). The seminar is based on the on-going, rapid, convergence, and cross fertilization of exploratory and explanatory interactive data visualization, which is opening new opportunities in visualization research and its applications. The same methodology and data used for scientific discovery can now be used in learning and communication and lead to new levels of user engagement, and at the same time the next generation of exploration tools will benefit immensely from the introduction of concepts from explanatory visualization. A key to this development is the availability of open data from observations and simulations, generated at unprecedented rates, sizes and complexity. The underlying challenges are reaching into the foundation of technical areas such as data access and representations, real-time data analysis, rendering of visual representations and interaction paradigms, but also research areas such as storytelling in interactive media and design for visual learning. Visualization in the space and astronomical sciences is a primary example of a domain in which both exploratory and explanatory visualization has served important, but so far distinct, roles. It is therefore natural for us to choose astrographics as the domain in which we explore the challenges and opportunities that combined exploration and explanation offers. To this end, this seminar will explore the role of visualization in several use cases:

  • Visualization supporting the data analysis process
  • Visualization as a tool for space mission planning and communication
  • Interactive astrographics in planetariums and other immersive environments
  • Educational use of astrographics in schools and at science centers

The seminar will, in the context of the use cases, discuss several applications such as the possibility to bring to life the content, goals, and status of the exploration of Mars in interactive settings, or to describe the critical aspects of current space weather (solar storms) from space agencies’ simulations, or bring the latest observed data, such as the on-going Gaia mission, to the general public. We will focus on the use of immersive environments, such as digital planetariums, display-walls and multi-touch-tables, but also address the possibilities of wide-spread use on commodity platforms.

Copyright Alyssa A. Goodman, Charles D. Hansen, Daniel Weiskopf, and Anders Ynnerman


For the majority of human existence, the visual language has been successfully used to communicate complex ideas that span across borders of knowledge, experience, age, gender, culture, and time. These aspects also make it an effective form of expressing workflows in scientific data analysis as well as the communication of scientific discoveries to broad audiences. The Dagstuhl Seminar 19262 brought together researchers from computer science, content producers, learning and communication experts, and domain experts from astronomy and astrophysics to define the emerging field of interactive visualization of space exploration and astronomy, referred to as Astrographics. This seminar played an important role in the ongoing process of removing the clear division between using visualization to enable scientific discoveries by subject-matter experts (exploratory visualization) and using visual representations to explain and communicate the results of such exploratory science to a greater, general audience (explanatory visualization). Designing the available visualization tools to serve both roles at the same time increases the overlap between these two aspects of visualization and allows scientists to better explain their findings and, at the same time, enables the general public to use similar tools for their own, guided, discovery and actively participate in the scientific process. The field of astronomy and astrophysics has been at the forefront of this process since the beginning as it is a primary example of a domain in which exploratory and explanatory visualizations have served important but distinct roles. For this reason, astrographics was chosen as the domain in which to explore the challenges and opportunities that arise when combining exploratory and explanatory techniques. The bulk of work in this seminar occurred in focussed break-out sessions that reported their findings back to the group and opened up the topics for joint discussions. Topics of these break-out sessions included discussions on better integration of software tools, improvements of analysis tools, preparing astrographics software packages to improve the quality of public presentations, the ability of sharing presentations both in spatially distant locations as well as saving them for later playback. Finally, there was a working group to work on a decadal white paper for astronomy [1].


  1. Jacqueline K. Faherty, Mark SubbaRao, Ryan Wyatt, Anders Ynnerman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Aaron Geller, Maria Weber, Philip Rosenfield, Wolfgang Steffen, Gabriel Stoeckle, Daniel Weiskopf, Marcus Magnor, Peter K. G. Williams, Brian Abbott, Lucia Marchetti, Thomas Jarrrett, Jonathan Fay, Joshua Peek, Or Graur, Patrick Durrell, Derek Homeier, Heather Preston, Thomas Müller, Johanna M Vos, David Brown, Paige Giorla Godfrey, Emily Rice, Daniella Bardalez Gagliuffi, Alexander Bock. IDEAS: Immersive Dome Experiences for Accelerating Science. arXiv preprint arXiv:1907.05383, 2019
Copyright Alyssa A. Goodman, Charles D. Hansen, Daniel Weiskopf, and Anders Ynnerman

  • Brian Abbott (AMNH - New York , US)
  • Hidehiko Agata (NAOJ - Tokyo, JP)
  • Emil Axelsson (Linköping University, SE) [dblp]
  • Thomas Boch (Université de Strasbourg - Strasbourg, FR)
  • Alexander Bock (Linköping University, SE & University of Utah, US) [dblp]
  • Dave Brown (Microsoft Research - Redmond, US) [dblp]
  • Melvyn Davies (Lund Observatory, SE)
  • Carter Emmart (AMNH - New York, US) [dblp]
  • Jackie Faherty (AMNH - New York, US) [dblp]
  • Andreas Gerndt (DLR - Braunschweig, DE) [dblp]
  • Alyssa A. Goodman (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, US) [dblp]
  • Charles D. Hansen (University of Utah - Salt Lake City, US) [dblp]
  • Tom Kwasnitschka (GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, DE) [dblp]
  • David H. Laidlaw (Brown University - Providence, US) [dblp]
  • Marcus A. Magnor (TU Braunschweig, DE) [dblp]
  • Thomas Müller (Haus der Astronomie - Heidelberg, DE) [dblp]
  • Joshua Eli Goldston Peek (Space Telescope Science Inst. - Baltimore, US)
  • Lucian Plesea (ESRI - Redlands, US) [dblp]
  • Sebastian Ratzenböck (Universität Wien, AT)
  • Thomas P. Robitaille (Aperio Software - Leeds, GB) [dblp]
  • Filip Sadlo (Universität Heidelberg, DE) [dblp]
  • Wolfgang Steffen (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico - México, MX) [dblp]
  • Gabriel Stöckle (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, AT)
  • Mark Subbarao (Adler Planetarium - Chicago, US) [dblp]
  • Edwin A. Valentijn (University of Groningen, NL) [dblp]
  • Daniel Weiskopf (Universität Stuttgart, DE) [dblp]
  • Ryan Wyatt (California Academy of Sciences - San Francisco, US) [dblp]
  • Anders Ynnerman (Linköping University, SE) [dblp]

  • computer graphics / computer vision
  • modelling / simulation
  • society / human-computer interaction

  • data visualization
  • immersive environments
  • astronomy
  • space exploration
  • planetariums