Space art as a genre is older than you might think. As early as 1301, a certain Giotto di Bondone from Florence made a painting depicting Halley’s comet. But the big breakthrough didn’t come until the late 1800s, when science fiction writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells started writing books that needed to be illustrated. Space art pioneers like Chesley Bonestell, Pat Rawlings and Don Dixon used the tools available to them in their days: paint, charcoal, chalk, pencil. Today, space artists, not to mention filmmakers, use digital tools with which nothing is impossible. Miles long spaceships on which… Read More
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.
It’s a popular theme in science fiction: the quest for a new Earth, because the old one is becoming uninhabitable, usually due to human interventions. The search, in other words, for planet B, a place to escape the self-inflicted crisis. Sometimes the idea is elaborated in a somewhat ironic manner, like in the unsurpassed Dutch series Missie Aarde (Mission Earth), in which the Netherlands take the lead because it’s the only country not under water thanks to its dykes. Sometimes it’s dead serious, as in the movie Interstellar, in which drought, dust storms and crop failures make the need for… Read More
Today we will travel to 2MASS J23062928-0502285, better known as TRAPPIST-1, a star at about 40.5 light years from Earth. That would normally be quite a long journey; even light takes more than four decades to get there. But in our imagination we’re there in the blink of an eye. Ultra-cool TRAPPIST-1 is a so-called ultra-cool red dwarf star, which made the news in 2017 because Belgian astronomers discovered seven Earth-like planets in orbit around it. The terms ultra-cool and Earth-like should not be taken too literally. Anything below 2700 degrees Kelvin (more than 2400 degrees Celsius) is considered ultra-cool… Read More
Over a year ago, I was asked if I wanted to have an exhibition of my work in the entrance hall of the RIVM, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven. At that time, I had only a vague idea of the existence of that institute. But then first the emissions of nitrogen by agriculture and industry created a kind of national crisis in which the institute played a pivotal role. And after that the covid-19 pandemic came upon us. By now, there is probably nobody in the country who has never heard of RIVM.… Read More
Terraforming is the modification of a planet in such a way that terrestrial life can thrive there. One should not underestimate such an enterprise. The terraforming of Venus or Mars is a huge project that will take centuries, if not millennia. But on which of our two neighboring planets is such a project the most promising? They both have their pros and cons, but on this page I mainly want to talk about Venus. Sister planet This closest planet in our solar system looks suspiciously like Earth, at first glance. With a diameter of 12,104 kilometers, Venus is only a… Read More
The Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the highlights of American science fiction, as far as I’m concerned. Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars were published between 1992 and 1996 and tell the future history of our neighboring planet over a period of almost two hundred years. In those two centuries, Mars is fully terraformed: transformed from a cold, dry, lifeless desert into a living world with seas, forests and cities. Not all main characters are happy with those changes: the battle between the Reds, who prefer to keep Mars as it is and the Greens,… Read More
A few weeks ago I made an artist impression of the “Dutch” planet Nachtwacht as a red, white and blue, Jupiter-like gas giant. But such a planetary image in the national colors can of course be made for our southern neighbors as well. After all, also Belgium has recently acquired a planet and a star. As part of the NameExoWorlds project of the International Astronomical Union, the Belgian public could name this piece of real estate in the Milky Way galaxy Gaul The name the Belgians have given to “their” planet sounds a lot more euphonious than the guttural Dutch… Read More
Since December 17, 2019, the Netherlands has two new far outposts: the planet Night Watch and the star Starry Night. The IAU, the International Astronomical Union, asked us to come up with a name for those two celestial bodies, which were previously known under the somewhat boring character combinations HAT-P-6 and HAT-P-6b. Inhabitants of the 111 other countries affiliated with the IAU were also assigned a cosmic duo, as part of the NameExoWorlds campaign. The Dutch public came up with some interesting suggestions for “our” planet and star Rembrandt and Van Gogh Out of 6,000 suggestions submitted, the national jury… Read More
This collection of space quotes, cosmic wisecracks and universal oneliners was originally tweeted from the, nowadays pretty dormant, Modified Mars Twitteraccount. I felt they deserved a more permanent location; after all, colonizing the Galaxy is a long term project. Some of these quotes are funny, others are dead serious; occasionally they’re both. They all are, sometimes very obvious, in other cases rather remotely, linked to themes like Mars, spaceflight, astronomy or the universe in general. And since I call this an image blog, I mix the quotes with some space art I’ve produced over the years. “We are all in the… Read More
After terraforming Mars quite a few times, I’ve now done the reverse thing: martifying our own planet. What would Earth look like without a drop of water? When all lakes, seas and oceans suddenly disappeared? Our world would become a Pale Yellow Marble, a kind of cross-over between the Moon and Mars. Warming Exactly how much water is there on Earth? According to recent estimates, we’re talking about 1400 million cubic kilometers. That is a cube with sides of about 1,100 kilometers. The vast majority of that amount, 97 percent, is salt water. The other three percent consists of fresh… Read More