Category: Space art

I beg your pardon? The end of history? Perhaps history has just begun. If we take care to not mess up things on our own planet, there is a universe waiting for us.

I sometimes think that my fascination with space and astronomy are related to the fact I saw the Apollo 11 moon landing as a seven-year-old. On the other hand, Arthur C. Clarke, Carl Sagan and Brian Cox at that time were respectively 51, 34 and 1 years old, so maybe age does not matter that much.

Anyway, the final frontier, has always had my warm interest. In the past I have made work for organizations such as The Mars Society and Explore Mars. With my own collection of Space Art I carefully follow in the footsteps of legends like Chesley Bonestell, Pat Rawlings and Don Dixon.

The planets Earth and Mars represented by two beach balls in the sand, on the right scale ratio to each other.

Two planets on the beach

Among the general public, there’s remarkably little awareness of the solar system, our immediate environment, our neighbourhood. Many people simply don’t know the difference between the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. Even Dutch national quality newspaper the Volkskrant once wrote that Jupiter is the largest planet in the universe (I’ll never forgive them). Naming the eight planets in the right order is a basic skill that few people posses. Knowledge about the size and mutual distances of these celestial bodies is also very limited. Beach balls For some reason, many people think that Mars is bigger than the...

Atmospheric nocturnal picture of a terraformed Moon, low above the horizon, that shines its green-yellow light on a slightly undulating water surface with a sailboat on it

Getting Used to a Terraformed Moon

The last few weeks, I have once again been busy with an old hobby of mine: terraforming. A word that the spelling checker does not even know, but in science-fiction one can read it quite often: it’s about making other planets more friendly for lifeforms from Earth by adjusting the temperature and the atmosphere. Mars and Venus The terraforming of Mars is actually not that complicated. Simply pumping CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will start a runaway greenhouse effect that turns up the heat and thickens the atmosphere. On our homeworld we are already practicing, unintentionally. What...

Planetary road sign in a museum-like setting showing the directions and distances to the sun, the moon and the seven planets

Building a Planetary Road Sign

There must be many of them: those funny signposts that indicate the direction and the distance to places that are usually quite far away. Tokio 9597 kilometers, Kinshasa 6379 kilometers, Mahabalipuram 8106 kilometers. Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought a few weeks ago, if there was a signpost like that showing the directions and distances for the sun, the moon and the planets? Why doesn’t such a planetary road sign actually exist? Of course I immediately knew the answer. The planets all have their orbits around the sun and the moon revolves around one of those planets: the Earth. And...

An old and rustyCitroën Deux Chevaux, launched with a Falcon Heavy rocket by SpaceX, en route to Mars

Chasing Elon Musk in an old French car

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX, one of the companies owned by Elon Musk, launched the first Falcon Heavy. A giant leap for mankind, like Neil Armstrong would have said, because with this rocket, manned missions to the Moon (once again) and to Mars become possible. And those missions also become a lot cheaper than before, because large parts of the rocket return to Earth and can therefore be used again.   Starman On such a first test flight you don’t take expensive satellites. Usually a block of concrete is used as ballast, but Elon had a better idea: he sent...

Artist impression of Terminator, the city moving accross Mercury from the science fiction novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Terminator, Urbanism on Mercury

A few days ago American writer Kim Stanley Robinson shared on his Facebook page an artist impression that I made a few years ago, featuring Terminator, the mobile city on Mercury from his novel 2312. Robinson called it a beautiful visualization; or well, actually his literary agent called it that, but of course she wouldn’t have done so if the author didn’t agree. Enthusiasm by the creator of the concept, that is of course a nice compliment for an impression artist. I made the illustration two years ago after reading 2312. For some reason Robinson’s work often inspires me to...

Space art, showing the Earth-like planet Alice with a remarkable landscape full of islands and lakes and in the background gas giant Goliath

Alice and Goliath – two worlds out of many

How many Earth-like planets are there in the universe? In other words: how many doubles does our beautiful water world have? We’ll never get anywhere near an exact answer but “very, very much” is, most likely, pretty close to the truth. There are about 200 billion stars in our own galaxy. The number of galaxies in the universe is, coincidentally, also around 200 billion. So we are talking about roughly 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. Even if only one in a million stars has an Earth-like planet orbiting around it, which seems like a pessimistic estimate, we still have an unimaginable number of...

Artist impression of planet Earth, seen from a location at 50.000 kilometres above the Netherlands, showing the Northpole, Europa and Africa

Rotterdam, Netherlands, Europe, Earth, Universe

April 22, the birthday of this blog entry, is Earth Day. There is no better day imaginable to talk about satellite and astronaut photographs of our planet. History The first satellite in orbit around the Earth was, in 1957, the Russian Sputnik-1 (which in fact simply means Satellite-1). However there was no camera on board. The first pictures of the Earth were made a few years later , on April 1, 1960, by the American weather satellite TIROS-1. Since then, our home world has been photographed many times. Some of these images have become iconic, like the Earthrise photograph from...

Artist impression of the interior of a giant hollow asteroid, seen from the shore of a lake, with two men on a wooden pier, looking out towards a city and the hills, lakes and cliffs beyond

Psyche Station: living in an asteroid

Some people use Facebook to watch cat videos or to read fake news. I use this medium for completely different things. A few weeks ago, my attention was triggered by a sketch my Facebook friend Shaun Moss posted. A simple drawing of a fairly extensive project: the excavation of asteroid 16 Psyche for the establishment of a space colony. The blue lines indicate a huge cylindrical space (the distances are in meters). Rotating the big rock around its central axis creates a centrifugal force on the curved walls of the cylinder. That force feels like gravity, like in a spinning washing...

The Forest Planetarium of Arnhem: eight stainless steel spheres in the Cold Pond in Sonsbeek Park

The Arnhem Forest Planetarium and the Lost Planets

A few years ago I had a brilliant idea: a model of the solar system on the scale of the municipality of Rotterdam. Just because it’s important to see the bigger picture, to know which larger system we’re a part of. And because it’s fun to be amazed about how big everything is. And how small we are ourselves. Streetplanetarium The city of Rotterdam is a very suitable place for such a streetpanetarium because there is a long trail of port areas attached to the city. Therefore, the distance between the center and the extreme outer regions is so large...

Close-up of the Earthrise stained glass window showing a piece of the globe with Europe, the Atlantic and North America

Earthrise as a Stained Glass Window

A few weeks ago I made a virtual mosaic, inspired by the famous Earthrise photograph, one of the iconic images of the twentieth century, which has had a huge impact on the way we think about our planet. Lonely This Christmas The Apollo 8 astronauts astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders were incredible far from home over Christmas 1968. If the phrase to boldly go where no one has gone before has ever been appropriate, it was in this case. Never before had anyone traveled beyond Earth orbit, which is in fact only a few hundred kilometers from...