Inspiring Stars — Nicolas Boone

The Tactile Universe


The Tactile Universe is a public engagement project based at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. Led by visually impaired (VI) astronomer Nicolas Bonne, we are creating resources to help young VI people engage with cutting-edge topics in astronomy, with our current focus on galaxy research.

We have developed 3D printable tactile images of galaxies using real data in multiple colour filters, whose tactile features scale in height with the intensity of light in each part of the image. To complement these models, we have developed a series of workshops, which begin with the scales in our solar system, and work up to the much larger scales associated with galaxies.

To help others use our resources to go on to inspire VI people in their own communities, we have made all of these resources free online, and have run training workshops in locations across the UK.