Safwat's Personal Site


Astronomy & Greek mythology Wall Paintings in Olympus Gym

September 2023

Olympus Gym is a Sparta-themed street workout/calisthenics gym. It has Ancient Greece-inspired wall art which includes astronomical aspects. This page talks about the process of making the art, mostly focusing on the astronomy and the video making process.

But first, enjoy a video of the place:


Loay - Gym Owner
Aiman - Painter & Artist

The opening ceremony will be livestreamed
on Sunday, 10th of October.

Stream Schedule:

  • 18:00       IDT
    15:00       UTC: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
  • 18:30-19:30 IDT
    15:30-16:30 UTC: Calisthenics event


Loay's passion for ancient Greece led him to collaborate with Aiman, who, through his exceptional artistic talent, created the amazing wall art in late 2023.

The acrylic wall paintings include mythological elements such as, Gods, heroes, monsters and more.

The Greeks intertwined their star lore with their mytholgoy, likewise, Aiman wanted the ceiling of the gym to have astronomical objects. He also wanted them to be scientifically close to reality where possible, although some liberty was perimitted where it served artistic purposes.

As an amateur astronomer, my (Safwat) role was to give astronomical advisory, and to give Aiman information that inspires ideas.

The inspiration phase

Aiman and I spent many hours discussing astronomy, physics, and the universe. We viewed various celestial bodies with a 10'' f/5 telescope: the Moon, Messier 6, Messier 7, NGC 6231 (Caldwell 76). We also viewed numerous constellations with the naked eye, including: Scorpius, Sagittarius, the Big Dipper.

Sadly, it wasn't planet season, so I showed him the planets through photos in "The Backyard Astronomer'a guide" by Terrence Dickinson and Alan Dyer. Also, the light pollution in the observing area did not permit fainter deep sky objects such as nebulae and galaxies. This wasn't a major problem though, as such objects look more detailed in professional cameras than the naked eye anyways.

The non-astronomical aspects were mostly Loay and Aiman's domain. Loay told us the stories of various Greek figures and made a list of them with descriptions and images, then he and Aiman planned which characters and events would be featured in the paintings.

The painting process

Click the terms to see their Wikipedia articles. Maybe I'll upload photos for each object sometime. But see the video for now.

Armed with inspiration, Aiman came up with the precise layout, gestures, and micro-details of both the astronomical and mythological pieces.

For planets, moons, and galaxies, Aiman just did his magic, paying attention to the smallest details; mars has ice on its poles, Jupiter has a red storm and intricate clouds, Saturn has beautiful rings. The moon has craters and marias, and so on. All of these details were painted in a way closely resembling what one would see through a telescope. The work features 1 meteor, 2 spiral galaxies, and 8 planets & moons: Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Earth, the Moon, and a nameless planet

For star constellations, I printed images from Stellarium in stereographic project and handed them to Aiman, who painted 15 of them scattered on the ceiling: Ursa Major (Big Dipper only), Orion, Ophiuchus, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius (Teapot and Teaspoon only), Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces.


Other than the astronomy, the ceiling and walls depict amazing Greek mythology paintings:

The timelapse sequence

For the timelapse sequence in the video, I used a tripod and a DSLR camera and took photos as the paintings progressed.

I needed to place the camera at the exact same spots each session, so I drew markers on the ground for each leg of the tripod, and used the camera's guides to always aim precisely at the same points on the wall.

The result was not perfect, so I used GIMP's "handle transform" tool to 3d-transform the most of them into near-perfect alignments.

The showcase video

For the video which showcases the end result, I needed to plan a route through the gym which, not only covers all objects, but also tells a compelling story at the same time, and in sync with the music. I wanted the video to be a single shot, and it took a lot of effort and many trials to get right.

Aiman did some interesting optical tricks. For example, saturn can be interesting to look at from any orientation, so the single shot video needed to include some rotations to showcase this behavior.

I then used Kdenlive's Time Remapping tool to perfectly sync the video with the music and tell a story.

I had two technical issues that were worked around in ways which I think fit in artistically:

1. The original video footage starts and ends at the Spartan army. To avoid a strange video cut, I played around with the pacing and zooming in Kdenlive, making that scene tell a "war story", in which the video cut fits the atmosphere.

2. At the Poseidon scene, the first music track ends. I did not want a sudden musical transition. So I did a "Poseidon jumpscare", which fits in with Poseidon's character and makes the musical transition more natural.

Making the ceiling map

The gym entrance features a printed map of the ceiling, indicating the names of the astronomical objects. I took about 120 pictures and fed them into Meshroom to produce a combined image. It was refined with Blender and GIMP. Meshroom is mainly intended for 3d photogrammetry and not for this use case, but that's the only tool I knew for this, and it worked. (Although there are imperfections).

The map is seen for a few seconds in the video. Maybe I'll upload an image some day.



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