Infographic of the Day: The S&P 500, Re-Imagined as a Solar System

Orbital Stocks

Stock pickers like to think that they’re more akin to astronomers than astrologists. Either way, it makes a certain sense to see the universe of stocks as nothing more than planets in orbit.

And that’s what James Grant, a student at The University of Advancing Technology, has done with The Stock Ticker Orbital Comparison.

Each stock on the S&P 500 is displayed as a “planet.” The color represents percentage change; the size represents market cap; and the transparency represents the moving average. Thus, a planet that shows up as a big, opaque green disk would represent a stock that’s relatively stable, with a big market cap and not too much of a percent change. The closer the planet is to the center, the higher its trading volume.

A video explains more of the specifics:

Cool stuff–and you can download it on Grant’s Web site. That said, some niggles prevent the chart from being useful tool rather than a compelling visual metaphor. For example, the color coding of percent change is weird–mauve is high and red is low, but both colors look pretty red. Kinda confusing. Also, there might simply be too much data coded into the disks to make it intuitive.

That said, why do Bloomberg terminals and stock tickers remain just an avalanche of numbers? Shouldn’t we have some sort visualization like this, to put all the movements of individual stocks in some sort of perspective? At a glance, you’d be able to gauge an up or down day, how the winners and losers are distributed, and what stocks are particularly hot (or toxic). Sounds a lot better than James Cramer pretending like he knows something, doesn’t it?