space collector cards - The Sun
Space collector cards - The Sun

Example Cosmic Collector Card – “The Sun”


Cosmic Collector Cards – Astronomy Outreach Deck

For quite some time now, Brisbane has had, shall we say “less than stellar” weather for astronomy. In an attempt to put this time to good use, I’ve used my admittedly limited design skills to put together a deck of space collector cards, with the express purpose of giving them away at sidewalk astronomy events!

I’m currently calling these decks “Cosmic Collector Cards”, and as of today, I have published and made available the first “completed” version of one of these decks! Yay! This particular one is specifically aimed at solar astronomy (as I spend a good portion of my public outreach time showing the Sun) and I wanted something that I could actually get some use out of myself. The cards are poker-sized, which means 2.5″ x 3.5″, and there are 108 in a deck. I decided on the larger deck size because it minimizes the cost of packaging and shipping per card – they are supposed to be given away after all, so I didn’t want unnecessary expense!

Design of the Cards

Example Space Collector card - Coronal loopsAs you can probably tell from the images, the front of the card is devoted to showcasing the amazing space imagery that is available these days. (At this point, I must thank most of the large space agencies like NASA and ESA for making their images either public domain or available on creative commons license – the cards would not be possible in this format if it were otherwise!) Apart from that, the front of the cards also gives some brief information such as the type of object, its name, and its location. There is also one interesting “factoid” in a “Did You Know?” box at the bottom.

The rear of the cards are more information-heavy. The large box to the left holds a variety of facts about the object, plus in some cases it shows details about its composition, or a map of its location in the sky. It really depends on the type of object being examined by the card, and how much non-technical information is available about it. The bottom right box holds the usual, dry statistics about the object, which I tried to de-emphasize because I think they tend to be a bit “dry”. In the case of surface features (such as the coronal loops to the left), this box shows an image of the parent object. And finally, the top right shows a QR code, which at present leads to more information about the object (or its parent object in the case of surface features). If you want more information on the card layout, go to this page.

As for the design of the cards, I will be the first to admit that I’m not a “designer” in any sense of the word. I tried to make the rear of the cards have a kind of “sci-fi computer readout” vibe to it, and the front look like a matching heads-up-display. This was because my concept idea was to have the cards evoke the sense of a spacecraft coming upon the objects in space, and getting a read-out from its scanners. I’m not sure that I accomplished that, but I am happy with the result nonetheless (considering it’s really my first attempt to design anything).

Collector Card Availability

Because this deck is intended to be given away at sidewalk astronomy events, and because I wasn’t sure if other people would want to use them, I decided to get the cards published through a print-on-demand site. After looking at a few of the alternatives, I decided to go with The Game Crafter because, while they weren’t the cheapest, they had by far the widest range of products available, and by far the best looking website and customer interface, in my opinion. Another advantage was their in-built shop page, which allows me to have the deck available for anyone to buy! So, if you’re involved in solar astronomy outreach and the card deck looks good to you, by all means, go over to my shop page and take a look 🙂 Alternatively, a link is always available to that page here on BrightStar Astronomy, in our own shop.

The Solar Astronomy Outreach deck is available at the current (and most likely permanent) special price of $14.99(USD, plus shipping which varies), for 107 double-sided, full colour solar information cards, and one “Thank You” card. Yes, it is also double-sided and full colour! They come packaged in a poker “tuck box” similar to (but larger than) your average deck of playing cards.(I should mention that the vast majority of this price is actually the cost of printing, because after all, they are designed to give away in the hopes of encouraging continuing involvement in astronomy, not make me rich.) The Game Crafter also has discounts available for larger orders.

Included Cards

Cards currently included in the deck are:

The Sun (50), Sunspots (5), Solar Flares (5), Photosphere (6), Chromosphere (6), Corona (5), Coronal Loops (5), Coronal Mass Ejections (5), Filaments (5), Prominences (5), Granulation (5), Coronal Holes (5), “Thank You” (1).

Other Cosmic Collector Card decks are coming very soon. A similar deck for night sidewalk astronomy is undergoing final changes now, and a couple other decks are in various stages of construction. Now, all I need is for the weather to improve here so that I can actually start giving some away!

So what do you think? If you have any comments or suggestions (for this deck or upcoming ones), please send me an email, or leave a comment below!