Today was the third day of DS14’s dashboard week. Our task for the day was to use an API to download data about planets and dwarf planets in the Solar System from the Solar System Open Data website. Afterwards, we had to visualise this using Power BI – using Tableau was not allowed at all today, which made this task the most challenging of the week so far.

Getting the Data

Downloading the data was the easy part – we had to connect to an API endpoint which brought back all the data we needed (no pagination was required), a few cleaning steps and the dataset was ready for visualisation. I ended up focusing on the 13 main planets and dwarf planets in our Solar System only.

Building the dashboard

Power BI is an interesting software which must be very useful for certain people but I found it very confusing and felt very limited in what I could create using it. Although, there is a chance I only felt this way because I had no previous experience with Power BI. Eventually, I ended up going back and forth between Alteryx and Power BI because making alterations to the data and creating calculated fields in Power BI was very confusing and it was much quicker to do it in Alteryx and just refresh the datasource in Power BI afterwards.

My aim for the dashboard was to not rely on icons and pictures downloaded from the internet. Instead, I wanted to use measures and dimensions from my dataset to visualise the planets. I ended up creating a scatterplot where my x axis represented the planets’ position from the Sun – I simply ranked them from 1 to 13 based on how far they were from the Sun (in Alteryx!). I have also sized them based on their total volume (calculated in Alteryx) and coloured them by their type. I created a very basic visualisation in the end, which shows how long it takes for each planet to rotate around itself and to orbit around the Earth measured in Earth days.

If I had to summerise how I felt today in one sentence, this would perfectly describe it: You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.