Ever since the mid-20th century, when Chesley Bonestell's first austere depictions of Saturn seen from the surface of Titan became an enticing invitation to explore the unknown, generations of astronomical artists following in his stead have transported us through space with finely-crafted visions of alien worlds we could not otherwise have even imagined. Their captivating works -- vivid, visceral and vicariously experiential -- nourished in the viewer a powerful longing for adventure, and inspired many an early astronomer and engineer to dream of a life exploring the solar system.|
Sixty years later, we are fast becoming accustomed to the real thing. Our spacefaring machines and the imaging devices they carry have impressed upon our collective psyche an indelible tableau of the truly awesome sights there are to behold among the real worlds in orbit around our Sun. The dramatic scenes and landscapes around Saturn that have unfolded on the pages of this website over the last several years are as wild, fantastic, and haunting as anything ever conjured by those attempting to portray the sublime and the unseen. Gazing upon any one of our images, we are instantly there, hovering above the rings or climbing the cliffs of Iapetus.
But before the days of real spaceships, all a would-be space traveler had were the captured imaginings of the astronomical artist. Even today, the hard realities of spacecraft trajectories and limited on-board resources restrict the photogenic opportunties that can be exploited, and the artist is still needed to sketch in the details and make visual -- even understandable -- what can't directly be observed.
Here, on the pages of this Art Room, in recognition and with gratitude for the delight and inspiration we have enjoyed because of them, we are featuring the creative contributions of today's space artists to this noble genre. We honor their soaring imaginations, technical skills, and artistic talents, as we celebrate, too, the special bond that joins them to us. For astronomical artists, like scientists, are romantics, dreamers, and explorers .... ever yearning, ever seeking, ever hopeful.
We salute them, kindred souls, one and all.