TNB Night Owl – Interplanetary Spirographs

Spirographic paths of Earth and Venus around the Sun. Image captured by the News Blender.

Did you have a Spirograph when you were a kid? You know, the Kenner toy where you used a couple of plastic wheels with teeth around the edges to draw spirals on paper using different colored pens? It was the Toy of the Year in 1967, and after a hiatus it made a comeback in the new century and was named a Toy of the Year 2014 finalist in two different categories. Anyway, a YouTuber who goes by the handle of CaptainGranit has brought spirographs into the 21st century using computer animation.

CaptainGranit has made slight modifications to the art form. Instead of using one pen at a time to draw one spiral at a time, he has the computer render a straight line stretched between two orbiting planets several times per second. Okay, so it’s not identical to the toy, but the visual effect is very similar to a spirograph. While CaptainGranit’s simpler animations don’t use different colored pens (although the more complex spirographs do), it is mesmerizing to watch the planets leave a ‘trail’ of not only their orbits, but also a record of the relationship between the two, as each planet orbits around the Sun at different speeds. These spirographs help us visualize the beauty and complexities of orbital relationships.

“Dance of Venus and Earth”

“Dance of Mars and Earth”

“Dance of Mars and Jupiter (Extended Version)”

“Dance of Mercury and Earth 2”

“Dance of Earth and Jupiter”

Now things get really interesting, with three planets mixing it up using lines of different colors.

“Dance of Mercury, Venus and Earth”

CaptainGranit has created many more beautiful and fascinating spirographs, which you can find on his YouTube channel. [Opens in a new tab].

Question Of The Night: What was your favorite creative or artistic toy?

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.