Hernan worked at the museum’s Shafran Planetarium as part of his school’s Creativity, Activity and Service internship program where he developed computer animated 3D models of the solar system.
He began his project by researching texture maps and topographical maps of the Earth. He created an animating program, which can read these maps and manipulate the surface of the sphere to mimic the topographical patterns. He also used these maps to determine the colors of the terrain.
These features, which make the planets recognizable to hundreds of students and families, are currently in use at the museum’s planetarium shows and programs.
“Hernan’s work ethic is out of this world,” says Jason Davis, museum astronomer and educator, who mentors Hernan. “He has quite literally taught himself how to animate in three dimensions using free software available on the internet. He is self-driven and requires very little supervision. Every time he visits the museum, he has improved upon his previous work.”
The 2017 National Merit Scholar and a National Hispanic Scholar, Hernan hopes to find ways to use the technology during his university studies as he is now more interested in 3D modeling. He says Astrophysics is his primary interest, but he is interested in other fields such as philosophy or creative writing and he would like to take a wide breadth of classes as a college student next year.