A Park of Astronomical Instruments

Author: Georg Zotti

Date: August 11th, 2018

This page is a technology preview for SEAC2018.

In a park landscape, you can explore a collection of astronomical instrument replica which can be moved and operated by mouse or cursor keys. Seeing these instruments in action should enable us to better understand their operation.

Short usage guidelines

Walk around with cursor or WASD keys. Your browser warns you that the document takes over control of the mouse cursor. Approach an instrument. When mouse cursor is invisible, press X to show it. Follow on-screen instructions how to interact with the instrument. Usually, keys +- change altitude, /* change azimuth (where possible), and while looking through, the cursor keys act as expected. Use keys 1, 2, 3, ... 0 to select a sky background. These skies have been prepared with Stellarium.

Technical background

This demonstrates the simplest way of interfacing the Unity3D game engine to Stellarium. Other ways work on Windows PCs only and include a working connection to a running instance of Stellarium for even closer, real-time interaction. The advantage of this live connection should be clear: If set up properly, you will get the correct sky for your nice Unity landscape. Contact me for possible applications (funded projects preferred!).

Nice eye candy: Observe how the primary grass texture of the ground changes from green grass to a snowy winter landscape or summer-dry grass as required by the respective skybox date. Also observe the reflected sky in the pond next to the Sterngarten.

Nice ear candy: I have placed a few birds into the forest. (Actually their voices only :-). And listen to your steps deep in the observatory tower.


  1. Georg Zotti and S. Mohammad Mozaffari. Ghazan Khan’s Astronomical Instruments at Maragha Observatory. In Luisa Pigatto and Valeria Zanini, editors, Astronomy and its Instruments before and after Galileo, Padova, 2010. CLEUP. Proceedings of the Joint Symposium International Astronomical Union - INAF Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy, held in Venice, San Servolo Island, Italy, 28 September – 2 October 2009.
  2. S. Mohammad Mozaffari and Georg Zotti. Ghazan Khan’s Astronomical Innovations at Maragha Observatory. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 132(3):395–425, July–September 2012.
  3. S. Mohammad Mozaffari and Georg Zotti. The Observational Instruments at the Maragha Observatory after AD 1300. Suhayl, 12:45–179, 2013.
  4. S. Mohammad Mozaffari and Georg Zotti. A New Light on the Central Instrument of the Samarqand Observatory. Proc. SEAC2018, in preparation.

Page created on August 11th, 2018 by Georg Zotti. Personal website: https://homepage.univie.ac.at/Georg.Zotti.
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