A Dark Tour of the Universe

A Dark Tour of the Universe combines sounds and tactile models to go on a brief exploration of space

This show was a pre-cursor (or 'pilot') for Audio Universe: Tour of the Solar System. We produced a pilot astronomy show for people who are blind or vision impaired. This is in collaboration with Nic Bonne and the Tactile Universe project,  BMW (manufactory 3D models) and global engineering company Arup , who used their acoustic-consulting team and Sydney-based SoundLab . Read their blog about the  project here. Furthermore, the composer James Reevell provided music and musical impressions of astrophysical concepts. The full show was presented at the British Science Festival in 2019. But you can listen to a preview here.


Credits: Narration and clip production by Leigh Harrison, Music by James Reevell, Variable star data from Kepler Space Telescope, Data sonification by Mitchell Alan and Kim Jones from Arup . Overall design and direction by Chris Harrison. 

There is a more detailed announcement of the show by ESO and by Portsmouth University (where examples of sonifications can be listened to or downloaded). Elements from the show have now been used across the world. In collaboration with BMW  we were shortlisted for two industrial awards for the innovative use of 3D printing / additive technologies: TCT Awards 2019 (Creative Application) and Purmundus Challenge 2019. By invitation, we also exhibited the models in Sofia (Bulgaria) at Additive Days 2020. This was a result of the 3D models we used, which are visualised below. 

Montage of astronomical images, showing both a tactile model of the image and the original colour image.

Credit: ESO/M. Zamani, Nicolas Bonne, S. Brunier, TRAPPIST/ E. Jehin, EHT Collaboration, Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Millennium Simulation Project, NASA/ Goddard/ SDO, WMAP Science Team