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.

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...

Detail of the Earthrise mosaic, a remake of the famous photo made in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission

Earthrise: Remake as a Digital Mosaic

Earthrise is the name of one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century. The photo of the Earth above the gray landscape of the Moon was made by astronaut Bill Anders during the Apollo 8 mission on December 24, 1968, Christmas Eve. On the occasion of the 45th anniversary of Earthrise, NASA made this video, which shows in detail how the photograph came about. Fascinating, because it makes you feel like you are there in person. Merry Xmas Apollo 8 was a legendary achievement: the first three people traveling beyond Earth orbit. Their capsule brought them more than...

The inverted world map where land and sea have been swapped; continents are oceans, islands are lakes and the other way around, in colors inspired by NASA's Blue Marble imagery

The Inverted World Map – Variations on a Blue Marble

It probably happens to everyone who likes to look at maps. You imagine land to be water and water to be land. Continents to be oceans and and oceans to be continents. Islands to be lakes and lakes to be islands. I could not resist the temptation to make a detailed map of such a topsy-turvy world. But I am not the first to do so. A little bit of googling yields a nice collection of inverted maps. Vladislav Gerasimov, for example, made a lovely styled fantasy map. And Chris Wajan on his Panetocopia website extensively discusses climate, vegetation and...

The names of all bodies in the Solar System larger than 100 kilometres, with font sizes relative to their radius, based on the realistic colors of the objects against the black background of space

87 Members of the Solar Family

A while ago I made a family portrait of the solar system. Or rather a portrait of the leading members of the family, the eight planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. Moons, asteroids and dwarf planets But there’s more happening around the Sun. Moons for instance; our own Moon, of course, but also a large number of satellites of the four gas giants. There is an asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where, besides a lot of little ones, also bigger objects are turning their rounds. But many asteroids can be found outside...

A room with world map Mars 2.0, showing the planet as it may look after terraforming, as decoration on the wall, while Mars rover Sojourner is driving around between the furniture

Mars 2.0 – Return to the Red, Green and Blue Planet

Liquid water has just been found on Mars. The movie The Martian (the perfect blend of Castaway and Apollo 13, with a touch of Saturday Night Fever) is in cinemas right now. And NASA has announced detailed plans to send people to Mars in twenty years. A good moment for me to take a look at the planet again as well. Mars Society Netherlands Mars and I have a long history together. In 1999 I founded, together with Arno Wielders (currently involved in Mars One) the Dutch chapter of the Mars Society in a café in Leiden. In the first...

Group portrait of the eight planets of our solar system, shown to scale: Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury in their entirety and parts of Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus

Portrait of the Planets

When you want to capture the whole Solar System in one image, you come across a problem: the distances between the eight planets and their star are huge, almost unimaginable. In all the pictures of the solar system you’ve ever seen the sizes of the planets are wrong: they are strongly exaggerated, by necessity. On a scale model of about two metres – a nice size to hang on the wall in your living room – the Earth would be only four thousandths of a millimeter. You wouldn’t even be able to see our homeworld! Heaven on Earth The only...