Archive for the Space Category

Sunday Sci-Fi Vol. 2

Paul Lehr illustrated a ton of work for sci-fi kings like Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and H.G. Wells. While last week we saw John Berkey’s scientific and technical approach to space craft and space flight, Lehr’s work is certainly more organic in both his subjects and technique. He leans more towards fantasy-like creatures, life forms, and orbs. There is also a recurring scene of numerous people all surrounding an object or life form. I find it interesting when artists have a heavy overarching presence of certain themes in their art; links between separate bodies of work. I was thinking while posting this week’s covers how different one artist’s view of the future can be from the others’. I think that seeing each artist’s different take on the future will be an interesting part of this series.

I’m curious–does anyone has any favorite images from this week or a preference between the styles seen this week or last?

Posted by Smyjewski

Sunday Sci-Fi Vol. 1

Ducking into used bookstores over weekends and after work, I have become a bit of a sci-fi paperback junky. I love the feeling of rummaging through stacks of forgotten paperbacks and discovering that hidden gem of a cover. There is just something about the idea of the future as illustrated by artists of the past that I find fascinating. If you do enough digging you can come away with some great covers for under a few bucks. Recently I began scanning and cataloguing my finds and this has led me to the idea for a new blog series I will be posting here on Sundays. Every week my post will be inspired by one of the covers I own or a new find. Some of these may be well known while others more obscure. I look at this as a way to learn about and resurrect some of the great cover illustrators and designers of the sci-fi genre. If you have suggestions or your own favorites, leave a comment or contribute to the collection of covers with a nice straight on shot of your find and tag it #Sundayscifi on Instagram. I started the tag off with a few of my own images but I would love everyone to include their finds.

To start the post off, I am featuring one of the better known artists of the sci-fi genre. Most know John Berkey for his illustrations for Star Wars, but he holds a massive catalogue of varying types of work. Beginning in the 1960s, he was commissioned by NASA to further their space program as part of their efforts to travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere and ultimately to the moon. No matter the type of work, I consistently love his use of color. My personal favorite thing about his work are his spaceships. The details of his images draw you in and you can get lost looking at every tiny detail he includes.

Posted by Smyjewski

James Webb Space Telescope



Over twenty years in the making and set for a 2018 launch, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the single most advanced space telescope ever constructed. Successor to NASA’s beloved Hubble Space Telescope, JWST has been purpose-built for studying the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to give astronomers an ability of seeing past clouds of dust and gas and further back to the beginning of the Universe than we ever have. How far? According to NASA the JWST will see the Universe’s very first star formations taking place only 100 to 250 million years after the Big Bang. Such distant and precise observations promise to unleash a torrent of new discoveries and unlock fundamental quandaries about the origin of the cosmos and life in the Universe.

A few interesting facts:

• JWST’s primary mirror is a 6.5 meter diameter gold coated beryllium reflector that is too large for contemporary launch vehicles, so the mirror is being composed of 18 hexagonal segments (as seen above), which will all unfold after the telescope is launched. Why Hexagons? It’s beyond my comprehension, but supposedly this has something to do with hexagons having a perimeter less than that of a square over a given area, which translates to a gained efficiency for steering the mirror segments and focusing the telescope.

• The telescope will maintain an L2 orbit, meaning that it will orbit in earth’s shadow and around the sun, not the earth. The idea here is to eliminate all possible heat / light sources, such as Earth’s heat-shimmer, and keep the telescope as cold as possible. How cold? Extremely. Cold. The JWST’s mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) will operate at a set temperature of 7 Kelvins, or -266° C / -447° F, through the use of a helium refrigerator, or cryocooler system (source).

• Although JWST’s primary goal is to study the first galaxies or stars that formed after the Big Bang, the telescope is also capable of measuring the physical and chemical properties of planetary systems within our Milky Way and will investigate the potential for life in those planetary systems.

• When launched, some scientists suggest the telescope will represent a greater technological achievement than landing on the moon.

Posted by: Owen Perry

ESO: Paranal Observatory, Chile

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Situated in the Atacama Desert, northern Chile, at 2,635m above sea level exists the Paranal Observatory. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the site contains mankind’s most advanced optical instrument, the Very Large Telescope (VLT), as well as a number of other state-of-the-art auxiliary and survey telescopes – most notably the VLT Survey Telescope and VISTA.

The VLT itself is comprised of four unit telescopes, which in 2011 gained the ability to work together to create the VLT Interferometer; an instrument that allows astronomers to see details up to 25 times greater than the individual telescopes can alone. Needless to say, the results offer a staggeringly beautiful view of our cosmos.

You can view many more Paranal Observatory and ESO images on the ESO website. A short film comprised of time lapses from the Paranal Observatory was also released last year. This is embedded below. Fullscreen that mother.

Posted by: Owen Perry
Instagram: Circa 1983

ISS Star Trails

Posted by Jon M

Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit relayed some information about photographic techniques used to achieve the images:

“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”

View full set on Flickr