An alternative approach

Paul Leyland

This is going off at a bit of a tangent and might be more suitable for older people in astronomy but we should keep in mind that astronomy is much more than imaging.

Celestial mechanics was traditionally illustrated with orreries.

Mechanical models of solar system objects to scale (either by size or  by relative separations) are relatively straightforward to make.

Cerenkov telescopes pick up flashes of light from individual incoming gamma rays. Modern neutrino telescopes pick up individual flashes of light too, and also have an angular resolution of a significant fraction of a radian. (Early ones were omnidirectional and were lucky to pick up one collision per day.) Throwing ping pong balls at an observer, or at a sheet held by the same, would illustrate this effect nicely. Alternatively, a number of “pings” from speakers scattered around a fixed source provides a sonic analogue.

Spatially resolved spectroscopy measurements permit the development of three-dimensional models of external galaxies and the way in which they rotate.  C.f. solar system models.

Astrometry from Gaia allows three-dimensional models to be made of our local stellar environment and the motions of the constituent stars.  C.f. orreries.

I’m sure that other examples can be given with a little thought.