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SPS 4010 - Astrophysics 1 - Stellar Structure and Evolution

Use this guide to get tips, links, and resources that will help you complete your visualization project.

Tools for Visualization

Now that you've determined your topic and found your data, the next step is to input that data into a tool that will help you create a visualization. Explore some of the recommended tools below. There may be other options for creating visualizations that are not listed here.


With visualizations, what you can show or represent is limited to the kinds of data you have. You might have an idea for a visualization, but if you don't have the right data, you won't be able to accomplish it. 

Microsoft Excel

You can use Excel from Microsoft Office to create a variety of visualizations and customized charts. 

You can download Microsoft Excel, and the rest of the MS Office programs, via Office 365. There's no cost to you as a Florida Tech Student! Get more information here: Office 365 @ Florida Tech

Animate Data with Microsoft PowerPoint

With a combination of tools like Excel, PowerPoint, and QuickTime (or another screen-cast tool), you can animations of your charts and graphs. This method is sort of a "no-coding-involved" work around to more complicated methods of animation, and uses simple tools that many have already installed on their computers. 

Adobe Creative Suite

Adobe Creative Suite is the entire collection of Adobe desktop programs for creating and editing documents. From essentials like Photoshop to innovative new tools like Adobe XD (Beta). You can also access built-in templates to jump-start your designs and step-by-step tutorials to sharpen your skills and get up to speed quickly.

You can use Adobe to create and/or edit images that can later be turned into animations. Adobe Creative Suite is available on the 4 iMac stations in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).

Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects is a user-friendly application that's a part of the Adobe Creative Suite. Adobe After Effects is used to create digital visual effects and animation. After you edit your images with Adobe Photoshop, use Adobe After Effects to animate them into something magical!

After Effects, and the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite, is installed on the 4 iMac stations in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).


Blender is a free, open source software used to create 3D animations. You can model, create, and animate all with Blender. Some knowledge of 3D modeling is required. Blender is available in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).


MatLab is a tool that helps you analyze and visualize data. MatLab is especially appropriate for visualizing data that's a part of an equation, and is often used for data in the maths and engineering fields. MatLab is available in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).


R is a free, open source software that helps you manipulate, calculate, and visualize data. Using R requires a bit of programming knowledge. But, as it is an open source software, there is a lot of help and guidance available. 

You can also get help in the Library. Contact Rob Sippel, Geospatial & Numeric Data Librarian ( or Mike Dickinson, Data Librarian ( for advice and assistance in using R for your project.


If you want some hands-on experience using R, there will be a Workshop -- "Introduction to R" -- held in the DSL on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Click this link for more details.


Tableau is a versatile data analytics tool. Input your data into Tableau and it will help you create highly customizable options for visualization, including interactive displays. Tableau is available in the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL).

D3: Data Driven Documents

D3 is a software that allows you to create impressive graphic visualizations of data without a lot of heavy coding or proprietary framework. D3 is a JavaScript library for manipulating documents based on data. D3 helps you bring data to life using HTML, SVG, and CSS -- so, some knowledge of these languages is required. However, if you're a quick study, the D3 site has links to a lot of helpful guides and tutorials to get you started.