EPSC 2013 – The Logo

Pop quiz hotshot: what do the stars in the logo represent?

I’ll genuinely offer a prize* to the first conference attendee who can work out the answer.


Admittedly I seem to pay much more attention than my peers to this sort of logo design thing. And don’t get me started on default Excel charts in papers (it’s a slippery comic sans slope). But, seeing as I’ve got a few other EPSC things going on, I thought I’d explain the logo for the conference at UCL this September.

There’s nothing I love more than an internal logo competition, and so I spent way too much of my spare time thinking of ideas that reflected what the conference would be about. I thought it had to show both recognisable London landmarks, and also fairly obvious planetary references (which would probably be less well-known). I also wanted the conference to have an alright-looking logo rather than the usual Photoshopped planets montage.

So above is the logo that won in the end. Hopefully most people will get the references in there, but maybe you didn’t get them all.


The biggest feature is the whacking great big Saturn-type planet looming large over London, and extending out of the logo itself. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of one of the many beautiful Cassini images of Saturn. But I guess it’s images like this that I’m trying to mimic.

Cassini approaches Saturn

(Image credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA)

Next is London itself. From left to right:

The Houses of Parliament (technically the Palace of Westminster I think)

The London Eye (technically The Millennium Wheel)

St Paul’s Cathedral

The Gherkin (technically 30 St Mary Axe).

Crikey, we really do like colloquial names for buildings.

The pods on the London eye now reflect the phases of the Moon. Not as they would appear, but how they fit prettily onto the wheel. Yeah, I do that sort of thing. Although making the animation did take a stupid amount of time plotting great circles onto spheres in Matlab, so at least they are sort of accurate. Best not to mention libration.

And the Gherkin is now a rocket. Not technically planetary, but I love the classic design of comic style rocket shapes. I guess I’m trying to channel my Tintin ‘On a Marché Sur La Lune’ poster that’s framed in my kitchen. Of course it’d be much more interesting if the Gherkin really could take off. I’m thinking Grasshopper style.

The official print logo is all grey, as I knew that it would rarely be printed in colour. There was also a nice bit of white breathing space at the bottom, until I had to include the Europlanets logo at the last minute. And keep your text out of my logo exclusion zone!

And the last thing, well, that’s the stars. They represent something, but I’m not telling you what. Bear in mind how I was thinking above, and hopefully someone should get it. Although I should warn you that I’m not sure it’s that easy. (Hint: the twinkling doesn’t mean anything).

Again, I’ll genuinely offer a prize* to the first conference attendee who gets it.


* I reserve the right for the prize to possibly be some London-themed tat.