Constellation Manga – astronomy through anime and manga


Published on May 03, 2018


You can combine the useful with the delightful, and, therefore, explain the astronomical concepts through the most famous japanese manga and anime? Of course, yes! And it is in this context that stands out in the Constellation Manga, a project born in Ravenna in 2011 by Daria Dall'olio (phd student in astronomy at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden), Piero Ranalli (researcher in astronomy) and Alessandro Montosi (expert on the history of animation and comics).

The project is based on a fundamental idea: the manga and anime represent a language common to at least two generations in Italy and in Europe, and therefore both the world of comics and japanese animation can provide a common imagination, by which to represent the topics of astronomy and physics, the study of their scientific content, and present the latest developments. Constellation Manga then becomes an effective pedagogical tool, that can be used with success towards a young audience and the adolescent, the adult; the material at our disposal allows us to create a bridge between generations, where young people can discover the stories with which they grew up their parents (and vice versa), and in which everyone learns, in a natural manner, and fun, learning about astronomy and physics.

On the occasion of the forty years from the airing of Ufo Robot – Goldrake in Italy, the Constellation Manga has taken part in the most important international congress on the theme of science communication, astronomy, Communicating Astronomy with the Public by 2018, organized in Japan by the International Astronomical Union.

In practice, the activities of the Constellation of the Manga takes place in a simple and linear: they are chosen three/four comics or cartoons known to the public, who are recalled to the memory by means of images or abbreviations of music. The plots are briefly summarized, with some links with astronomy, from which to make the point on current knowledge. For example, in the cartoon Atlas Ufo Robot Grendizer and its pilot Actarus, as well as his enemies, come from an imaginary planet orbiting the star Vega. This allows to introduce the discussion on what we actually know about Vega, and about the existence of extrasolar planets, pulling in dance science and in-depth data.

Between the manga and anime more popular to the Constellation Manga, besides the already mentioned Atlas Ufo Robot , we find Galaxy Express 999 and Starzinger (that typically introduce the theme of space travel), Ken the warrior and the Knights of the Zodiac (which introduce the theme of the constellations, according to the european tradition, both according to the sino-japanese). Some of the works, perhaps less known to the general public, but more “adult” and authorial issues, such as 2001 Nights, and Planetes can be used to introduce themes that are more introspective: what is the relationship between humanity and space? What are the risks and the benefits, and how fragile the human presence in space?

Between fun and culture, a Constellation Manga allows you to dive to 360° in the world of the astronomers and of the general culture, including scientific data, mathematical and philosophical reflections. The whole, with a common denominator: the world of comics, and the anime most loved by the public.

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