High Altitude Eclipse – Digital Illustration

It’s getting hard to contain my excitement for the Great American Solar Eclipse. The first total eclipse visible from coast to coast in over a century. I’ve been fascinated by some images showing the eclipse from a high altitude. I’ve seen several mocked up images, that don’t seem to correctly show the event. Above is my illustration based a few reference photos. I have also placed the planets that may also be visible during the brief moment of totality. Below is a time lapse video of the drawing. I may update this illustration after the eclipse on August 21.

High Altitude Eclipse from Raymond Cassel on Vimeo.

Eclipse with planets labeled

Mira A and B – Digital Illustration

Mira A is a variable red giant star estimated to be about 700 times larger then our own sun. While Mira A has been observed since the 1600’s, it’s companion star Mira B was discovered in the early 1900’s. This depiction illustrates the stellar material transfering from the red giant to it’s smaller companion. This forms a disk of material around the smaller star. These stars are shown as they would appear in visible light.

Phobos Over Mars – Digital Illustration

Largest moon of Mars making a transit over the planet

The diminutive moon Phobos illustrated in transit over Mars. Phobos is so small that it lacks the gravity to give it a spherical shape. At 16 miles by 13 miles by 11 miles this tiny moon orbits close to Mars at mere 3,700 miles from the surface. It takes Phobos over 7.5 hours to make a single orbit around Mars

This illustration was created on the Apple iPad using the Apple Pencil and the Sketchbook Pro App. Below is a timelapse video of the artwork.

Phobos Over Mars from Raymond Cassel on Vimeo.

Juno Revisited – Digital Illustration

Juno Probe over Jupiter

NASA’s Juno probe has just completed it fifth orbit of Jupiter. Returning more stunning images. Juno’s mission to scan deep into the Jupiter’s atmosphere and study it’s magnetosphere didn’t originally include a visible wavelength camera. But I think these images have captured the imagination of the world. Above is my depiction of the Juno probe over Jupiter’s southern pole. The background image is an enhanced JunoCam image, with added details painted in to create a clearer view. The Juno probe I built and rendered in Lightwave. For more images from Juno check out their site.
Below is an animation of the same scene.

Jupiter's Polar Clouds from Raymond Cassel on Vimeo.

35 Years on Venus – Digital Ilustration

Two Illustrations of the Soviet Verera Probe on Venus

The Soviet Verera 14 Probe on Venus

Thirty five years ago today the Soviet Venera 14 probe landed on Venus. Subjected to temperatures in excess of 800 degrees, pressure equal to some of the deepest ocean dives and an atmosphere that has sulphuric acid in it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have pictured the probe so optimistly. The Russians tend to over-engineer these missions, so I think the mostly titanium probe is still intact after all these years. I would like to see more missions to Venus. As inhospitable it is, it takes half as long to get there than Mars, it has similar gravity, protection from radiation, and the upper atmosphere has an air pressure that wouldn’t be too hard to deal with.

Huygen on Titan – Digital Illustration

Two views of Huygen on Titan

Last month I was asked to exhibit at the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center in Colorado Springs. While I was there I took some pictures of the various space artifacts that were on display. On loan from NASA, was a full scale mock-up of the Huygens probe that landed on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. I decided to try to use the photos to illustrate the probe on the surface of Titan. Above is the result. This gave me the chance to experiment with soft-body dynamics to make the parachute drape over the surface I had created. Below are the photos I took at the Space Discovery Center.

Asteroid Chariklo-Digital Illustration

Asteroid Chariklo

In 2013 seven ground-based telescopes watch Asteroid Chariklo as it passed in front of a bright star, an event known as an occultation. A reduction in the amount of light preceding and after the asteroid passed in front of the star confirmed that there is a ring around it. Making Chariklo the fifth object in our solar system and the smallest to have a ring system. Chariklo is only about 150 miles wide with a double ring that spans about 10 miles. Chariklo orbits between Saturn and Uranus.