In April 2009 the late Sandy Vanwey, Administrative Secretary of the Science, Mathematics & Engineering Division, asked me if I might be interested in designing constellation images for the planetarium being designed for MJC West Campus as a major element of the new Science Community Center & Great Valley Museum. The design for this Measure ‘E’ Bond project was the work of architect Jason Ellis of Leonakis Beaumont Design Group Inc., who conceived of the idea for including 12 constellation designs each on a 7 foot square radially curved black anodized aluminum panels with LED illumination of the main stars. For the next three years I worked very closely with the Science Department on this project. As well as Sandy Vanwey, my contacts included physics professor Kenneth Meidl and astronomy professor Bill Luebke of the Science Department and Audrey Mills of Kitchell.
The process of creating the twelve images required first selecting constellations appropriate to the subject of astronomy and the position of Modesto to the sky. Similar historical images were studied to develop a feel for tradition of the subject. Photos were acquired or taken as models, projected and drawn in graphite on heavy paper before being inked, as in the Study for Andromeda. Austin Creely, an MJC Computer Graphics student, assisted me with the digital work on the images, as well as those of the building logo and banners, for which the original drawing of the tree is the work of Derek Madden. Austin’s job, under my direction, was to do the screen captures of the needed sky fields from the Celestia astronomy simulation program, editing of the fields, assembly of the composition layers, and proofing of the final images.
The next step was to create a ¼ scale panel mockup in the final material. The test panel depicts Boötes, for which I was the model. My son Alexander was the model for Orion, while my daughters Vanessa and Erica were the models for Cassiopeia and Andromedra respectively and my dog Philo was the model for Canis Major. Other images include: Cancer, Capricorn, Cygnus, Leo, Scorpio, Taurus and Ursa Major.