Timeline of Astronomy History

Lab Reports, Timelines, Visualization


The timeline is a very common information visualization method, especially when we want to present the history of something or the process of some developments. In the last class, we have an in-class lab to create a timeline website by using a very efficient tool TimelineJS.

My topic for this timeline lab is the history of astronomy. This is a very mysterious and attractive topic for me. In order to create a concise and understandable timeline, I browsed many materials about this topic and filtered out the most important events which can well represent the history of human’s exploration to the Astronomy.

History of Astronomy


When I hadn’t selected my topic, I browse in the “Milestones in the History of Thematic Cartography, Statistical Graphics, and Data Visualization“. I learned lots of milestones from that website. After browsing through the technology milestones, I finally choose astronomy as my final topic because technology is the base of human’s exploration. I associated this to astronomy history. When I decided my topic, I began to search for keywords at Google and Wikipedia to figure out the overall history of astronomy. I found that there are tons of methodological theories in this field, which is hard to understand and display to the audiences. So I keep searching the material and finally, I found a history teaching material about astronomy history brief, which is very fit for my audience and myself. I refer most of the information from this website and organize my timeline.


The method I used to create this timeline is an online tool “TimelineJS”, which can help users generalize an interactive timeline without leaving the browser. The main mechanics of this tool is that all the timeline contents are based on this Google Sheet.

Data on the Google Sheet

In this specific format google sheet, I can set each event’s begin and end time, change the background image or color, and add the cover image for each event. What I need to do is enter the information and to paste the URL of images I require. The headline and Main text position looks nice and doesn’t need me to design the layout. The timeline will automatically be created after I enter the year’s information.


I eventually design an interactive online timeline infographic in this URL: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1dwE3aYF970C7ErM4C0finGkJ3637cAP5OP-u87g1K_k/edit?usp=sharing

I selected a beautiful space image as the background and choose the most symbolic events as my timeline content.

How to imply this tool

This tool can be used in many cases that need a timeline to narrate something. Suitable themes can be history and development. Also, this tool can be a very vivid schedule for people to put their task lists on the timeline in order to organize their work efficiently.