Mt Tam Astronomy Logo

Graphic Design

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I’ve attended the Mt. Tam Astronomy Program regularly since earlier this summer. It’s a great series that features talks by local scientists and researchers and typically includes a night sky viewing afterward. This all takes place at Mt Tam’s Cushing Memorial Amphitheater near the Rock Springs parking area. Sitting in the big, sweeping amphitheater with other enthusiasts as the sky darkens is a nice community experience.

I had originally contacted the organizers with questions about night photography. They answered quickly and suggested I submit my photos for inclusion in the slideshow shown before the presentations. They also let me know that they were looking for volunteers to design a new logo. I was immediately interested in giving back, thanks to the high-quality and friendly experiences I had during the astronomy programs.

original mt tam astronomy programs logoThe original logo is actually kind of cool, in my opinion, but it is definitely dated. Things I like about it include its minimalism; the sunset color gradient; and the circular elements that are suggestive of both star trails and the amphitheater. The font feels a bit 70’s/80’s, but a retro sci-fi nod is not out of place for an astronomy-focused organization.

I wanted to preserve some of these style cues, so most of my sketches featured circular and oval shapes. The color gradient was a nice expression of the transition between day and night that is observed in the amphitheater, so I included that, despite color gradients having different levels of success when printed (and I decided to offer a black and white version without the gradient for simpler printing requirements). To give the logo a sense of context, I made the amphitheater steps a primary element along with an approximation of the Mt. Tam ridge line. I used Stellarium to check which recognizable constellations might be in the western sky during September and October (Boötes was the winner). The shooting star element breaks up the oval edge and negative space begins to suggest a ‘speech balloon’ shape that references the content of the programs. Finally, I chose a font that was easier to read but kept that retro sci-fi look (Star Trek fans might recognize it).

mt tam astronomy programs logo color
mt tam astronomy programs logo black and white