Stellations of the Rhombic Triacontahedron

Extending the faces of a particular polyhedron until they intersect other faces creates stellations. In the case of the Rhombic triacontahedron, this process can generate many new, beautifully summetric polyhedra: according to George Heart's page on the stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron, the number is an incredible 358 833 072. Of these, 226 are fully supported, i.e., with no hollows between any point and the centre.

As you might have seen in the main polytope page, Zometool is a great tool for representing such stellations. One can, of course, represent them individually, as was done in this page in David Richter's site. However, because Zometool depicts only the edge arrangement, we can build a stellation around a smaller one and still see both. This allows one to depict several stellations with the same model; this in turn allows a direct visualization of how the different stellations relate to each other. This process can be extended to represent many stellations at the same time, as in the case below.

Another tool that helps understand the geometric relations between the different stellations is the stellation diagram. Building it in Zometool is extremely instructive, because apart from the geometric insight it provides, it also gives us an idea of whether the model is feasible within the Zometool system, provides a count of the number of parts necessary to build the model and furthermore provides a simple almost step-by-step guide on how to build it.

We exemplify all of this below. We start with the full stellation diagram of the Rhombic triacontahedron:


Fig. 1: Full stellation diagram of the Rhombic triacontahedron, made in Zometool. Only a few ultra-short yellow struts are missing, this issue can be solved by making the whole diagram larger by the golden ratio. Only one quarter of the diagram was actually built, the rest of it was built by flipping the images.


Amazingly, as Fig. 1 shows, the Zometool system can depict the whole diagram (the many super-long struts needed can be built from shorter ones). This does not happen with other objects, like for instance, the stellation diagram of the Icosahedron, where many lines cannot be represented in the Zometool system.

If every of the 30 faces of the Rhombic triacontahedron is fully expanded as in Fig. 1, we would have a model that represents all 358 833 072 stellations at the same time! However, that takes a few thousand parts.

In what follows, we focus mostly on the inner part of the diagram that is covered by the Great rhombic triacontahedron. This includes the well-known stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron mentioned in the main polytope page.

In this page:
- The Great rhombic triacontahedron, with face intersections
- The Great rhombic triacontahedron, with facial plane intersections
- Four stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron
- The last stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron


The great rhombic triacontahedron, with face intersections



Fig. 2a: Inner part of the stellation diagram of the Rhombic triacontahedron, multiplied by the golden ratio. The outer Rhomb depicts one of the 30 faces of the Great rhombic triacontahedron, all other lines depict the mutual intersections of those faces.

The inner red Rhombus is one of the 30 faces of the Rhombic triacontahedron. The inner yellow Rhombus (without yellow side extensions) is one of the 30 faces of the Medial rhombic triacontahedron. The blue square is one of the 30 faces of the compound of 5 Cubes.


Fig. 2b: Same as Fig. 2a, but now with numbering of the different parts of the stellation diagram. This will be useful for understanding the construction stages below.


The model in Fig. 2a shows a) the relative positions of those important stellations, b) provides a count of the parts needed (it is the number of struts in the model times 15) and c) in Fig. 2b, we highlight how it shows us how to build the stellation models.

Like most complex Zometool models, we start from the centre, in this case by building first the Rhombic triacontahedron itself, this is region 1 in Fig. 2b. As we build each layer on top of the previous, we meet successive stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron. Below we follow the order shown in Fig. 2b. This is not the only way - there are many other models and stellations that can be obtained by merely switching the order in which we build the different layers! The larger finished model is the Great rhombic triacontahedron itself, with all intersections of its Rhombic faces visible.


Fig. 3: First step: the Rhombic triacontahedron itself. Each face is represented by region 1 in figure 2b.


Fig. 4: Adding red and yellow struts, we cover region 2, obtaining the first stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 5: Adding shorter red and yellow struts, we cover region 3, obtaining the second stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 6: Adding some more red and yellow struts, we cover region 4, obtaining another stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 7: Adding some short blue struts, we cover region 5. This is yet another stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 8: With pentagonal pyramids of yellow struts on top of the blue pentagons, we cover region 6. The outer shape is now the Medial rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 9: Adding some red/yellow pyramids on top of the deepest holes in the previous model, we now cover region 7, obtaining a beautiful stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 10: With some blue struts, we now cover region 8. The outer shape is now a combination of the medial rhombic triacontahedron and the compound of 5 Cubes.


Fig. 11: As a side excursion, we can remove the yellow struts from region 6 and obtain the compound of five Cubes.

The intersection of those 5 Cubes is the Rhombic triacontahedron itself. The convex hull is the Dodecahedron, which has the same vertex arrangement. This means that the dual of the compound of 5 Cubes, the compound of 5 Octahedra, must be a stellation of the Icosahedron.


Fig. 12: Continuing from Fig. 10, and adding a few red struts, we now cover also regions 9 and 10. More stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 13: Adding some long red struts, we cover region 11 and obtain a very beautiful stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 14: With 20 sets of three very long red struts we cover region 12, and the model of the great rhombic triacontahedron is completed!

The great rhombic triacontahedron, with facial plane intersections

This is not the only possibility. We can instead make a model of the Great rhombic triacontahedron where, instead of the intersections of its 30 finite rhombic faces, we represent the intersections of the 30 (infinite) facial planes. In this case, we get a larger portion of the stellation diagram:


Fig. 15: Inner part of the stellation diagram of the Rhombic triacontahedron, this time including all intersections of its 30 facial planes that are found within the volume and surface of the Great rhombic triacontahedron. The yellow connections that were problematic in Fig. 1 (too short) can be done at this scale.


In this case, the sequence of stellations continues from the penultimate step in the sequence above.


Fig. 13, repeat: OK, this is where we were...


Fig. 16: Another stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 17: Another stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 18: With 20 sets of three long red struts the new, more complex model of the great rhombic triacontahedron is completed!

Four stellations of the rhombic triacontahedron

The models above might seem to be too complex for some - they certainly use a lot of parts! A simpler alternative is presented below (also in the main polytope page), which depicts only the four important stellations mentioned specifically in the caption of Fig. 2. This is presented in two sizes.


Fig. 19: Excluding most struts and connectors from the stellation diagrams in Figs. 2 or 15, we see the faces of some of the more important stellations of the Rhombic triacontahedron much more clearly. The inner red Rhombus is one of the 30 faces of the Rhombic triacontahedron. The yellow Rhombus is one of the 30 faces of the Medial rhombic triacontahedron. The blue square is one of the 30 faces of the compound of 5 cubes. The outer Rhombus is one of the 30 faces of the Great rhombic triacontahedron.


Fig. 20: Extending the 30 faces of the Rhombic triacontahedron as in Fig. 19, we obtain this model, where the four stellations are easy to spot since they are in different colors. This model uses 120 very long red struts, which are no longer manufactured by Zometool. eBay is a good way of getting hold of some of these.


Fig. 21: The latter model can also be built in a smaller scale, which is cute and avoids the lack of very long struts.

The last stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron


Fig. 22: This is the stellation net for the last stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron. The scale has been reduced by the golden ratio relative to the stellation diagram in Fig. 1. Here we included only the parts of the stellation diagram in Fig. 1 that touch the outside of the polyhedron. A few internal medium red struts were added for stability.


Fig. 23: This is the last stellation of the Rhombic triacontahedron. This model benefits from the use of very long struts, in this case 120 very long blues and 180 very long yellows. Their use saves 300 balls and 600 regular struts.


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