The polyhedron above is the rhombic enneacontahedron. Sixty of its faces are wide (yellow) rhombi, while the other thirty are narrow (red) rhombi. The wider rhombi are arranged in twelve panels of five rhombi each. If those panels are moved outward from the center by just the right amount, the narrower rhombi have room to expand, becoming equilateral octagons:

With four icosahedra, and four octahedra, it is possible to attach them to form this figure:

This figure is actually a rhombus, but the gap between the two central icosahedra is so small that this is hard to see. To remedy this problem, I elongated the octahedra, thereby creating this narrow rhombus:

It is also possible to use the same collection of polyhedra to make a wider rhombus, as seen below.

These aren’t just any rhombi, either, but the exact rhombi found in the polyhedron below, the rhombic enneacontahedron. It has ninety rhombi as faces: sixty wide ones, and thirty narrow ones.

As a result, it is possible to use the icosahedra-and-elongated-octahedra rhombi, above, to construct a rhombic enneacontahedron made of these other two polyhedra. The next several images show it under construction (I “built” it using Stella 4d, available at this website), culminating with the complete figure.

Lastly, I made one more image — the same completed shape, but in “rainbow color mode.”

The rhombic enneacontahedron has thirty faces which are narrow rhombi, and sixty faces which are wider rhombi. It is also known as a vertex-based zonohedrified dodecahedron. To create this cluster-polyhedron, I started with one rhombic enneacontahedron in the center, and then augmented its thirty red faces (the narrow rhombi) with additional rhombic enneacontahedra. In the image above, I kept the yellow color for all the wide rhombi, and red for all the narrow ones. In the next image, however, the rhombi are colored by face type, referring to their position in the entire cluster-polyhedron.

Software credit: I created this using Stella 4d, software you can buy, or try for free, at this website.

The stellation-series of the rhombic enneacontahedron has many polyhedra which are, to be blunt, not much to look at — but there are some attractive “gems” hidden among this long series of polyhedral stellations. The one above, the 33rd stellation, is the first one attractive one I found — using, of course, my own, purely subjective, esthetic criteria.

The next attractive stellation I found in this series is the 80th stellation. Unlike the 33rd, it is chiral.

And, after that, the 129th stellation, which is also chiral:

Next, the 152nd (and non-chiral) stellation:

I also found the non-chiral 158th stellation worthy of inclusion here:

After that, the chiral 171st stellation was the next one to attract my attention:

The next one to attract my notice was the also-chiral 204th stellation:

Some polyhedral stellation-series are incredibly long, with thousands, or even millions, of stellations possible before one reaches the final stellation, after which stellating the polyehdron one more time causes it to “wrap around” to the original polyhedron. Knowing this, I lost patience, and simply jumped straight to the final stellation of the rhombic triacontahedron — the last image in this post:

All of these images were created using Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator, a program available at http://www.software3d.com/Stella.php. For anyone interested in seriously studying polyhedra, I consider this program an indispensable research tool (and, no, I receive no compensation for all this free advertising for Stella which appears on my blog). There’s a free trial version available — why not give it a try?

This is the rhombic dodecahedron, the dual of the Archimedean cuboctahedron.

While the rhombic dodecahedron has 12 faces, there are many other polyhedra made entirely out of rhombi, and most of them have more than twelve faces. An example is the rhombic enneacontahedron, which has two face-types: sixty wide rhombi, and thirty narrow ones. It is one of several possible zonohedrified dodecahedra.

As the next figure shows, the wide rhombi of the rhombic enneacontahedron have exactly the same shape as the rhombic dodecahedron’s faces, so the two polyhedra can be stuck together (augmented) at those faces. These wide rhombi have diagonals with lengths in a ratio of one to the square root of two.

The next picture shows what happens if you take one central rhombic enneacontahedron, and augment all sixty of its wide faces with rhombic dodecahedra.

Since this polyhedral cluster in non-convex, it can be changed by creating its convex hull, which can the thought of as pulling a rubber sheet tightly around the entire polyhedron. Here’s the convex hull of the augmented polyhedron above.

The program I use to make these rotating images, Stella 4d (which you can try here), has a function called “try to make faces regular.” If applied to the convex hull above, this function leaves the triangles and pentagon regular, and makes the octagons regular as well. However, the rhombi become kites. The rectangles merely change, getting slightly longer, while rotating 90º, but they do remain rectangles.

After creating this last polyhedron, I started stellating it. After stellating it eight times, I obtained this polyhedron:

Once more, I applied the “try to make faces regular” function.

This polyhedron has five-valent vertices where the shorter edges of the kites meet. These are also the vertices of pentagonal pyramids which use kite-diagonals as base edges. By using faceting (the inverse operation of stellation), I next removed these pyramids, exposing their regular pentagonal faces.

In this polyhedron, all faces are regular, except for the red triangles, which are isosceles. (There are also triangles — the pink ones — which are regular.) Each of these isosceles triangles has ~63.2º base angles, and a ~53.6º vertex angle, with legs just under 11% longer than the base. This is a judgement call, for “near-miss” to the Johnson solids has not been precisely defined, but I see an ~11% edge-length difference as too great for this to be classified as a “near-miss,” even though I would love to claim discovery of another near-miss to the Johnson solids (if it even turns out I am the first one to find this polyhedron, which may not be the case). It is close to being a near-miss, though, so it belongs in the even-less-precisely defined group of polyhedra which are called, quite informally, “near near-misses.”

For the sake of comparison, here is a similar polyhedron (included in Stella 4d‘s enormous, built-in library of polyhedra) which is recognized as a near-miss to the Johnson solids. (I do not know the name of the person who discovered it, or I would include it here — I only know it wasn’t me.) It’s called the “half-truncated truncated icosahedron,” and its longest ledges are just over 7% longer than its shorter edges, with the non-regularity of faces also limited to isosceles triangles. However, this irregularity appears in all of the triangles in the polyhedron below — and in the “near near-miss above,” the irregularity only appeared in some of the triangular faces.

The images on the faces of this polyhedron are based on information sent from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter, as seen at http://lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/lola/feature-20110705.html and tweeted by @LRO_NASA, which has been happily tweeting about its fifth anniversary in a polar lunar orbit recently. I have no idea whether this is actually an A.I. onboard the LRO, or simply someone at NASA getting paid to have fun on Twitter.

To get these images from near the Lunar South Pole onto the faces of a rhombic enneacontahedron, and then create this rotating image, I used Stella 4d: Polyhedron Navigator. There is no better tool available for polyhedral research. To check this program out for yourself, simply visit www.software3d.com/Stella.php.