Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

John Adams Whipple- The Moon 1851

John Adams Whipple- The Moon 1851

We live in an age where we are able to see, with the help of NASA’s Hubble Telescope and Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, truly amazing images of the far flung regions of our universe on a daily basis.   I often think that, as a result, we tend to simply stop looking up in the night sky and wondering at the moon and stars and planets that move above us in plain sight.  I know that one of my great pleasures was coming out of my studio to head home through the woods and looking up in the night sky to find those familiar landmarks.  Jupiter‘s strong glow as Castor and Pollux look on from a short distance away.   The constellation Orion‘s belt and brightest star, Rigel.  And of course, the large and calming presence of the moon in all its phases.

They become like friends after a while, true and  everpresent.  Well, when the winter sky isn’t filled with clouds.

John Adams Whipple- View of the Moon 1852

John Adams Whipple- View of the Moon 1852

All of this went through my mind in a flash when I came across the early photo shown above,  an 1851 daguerreotype of the moon, and this one here on the right, another moon image from 1852, from John Adams Whipple (1822-1891), a Boston area photographer who was a pioneer in early astronomical and night photography.  He took some of the earliest photos of the moon and stars using the Harvard 15-inch telescope which was one of the largest in the world at the time.

I like the idea that this image in its little precious case was perhaps carried and periodically looked upon  a century and a half ago, as one might look upon a photo of a friend or family member.  It makes me think that whoever carried this had similar feelings when they looked up into the night sky, a unity with something so much larger than that which is within our reach.  A nodding acquaintance with the eternal.

Seeing these images from Whipple makes me want to get out and look up into the sky.  Hopefully, the clouds will clear and I can see my old friends once more.

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North Celstial Tree-- JeronimoLosadaI’ve been having some work done here in the studio recently and have been sharing my space with a couple of carpenters.  I am never comfortable sharing my  workspace with anybody and always feel a bit distracted, even inhibited.  But both Tony and Nick are good and easy going guys and I have been able to get some work done.

Yesterday, Tony told me to check out the NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day.  He thought it would look familiar to me.  Clicking on the site I was greeted by the photo above, a magnificent image of a great tree under a night sky taken by Spanish astrophotographer Jeronimo Losada  near Almaden de la Plata in the province of Seville, Spain.  Through a break in the upper reaches of the tree you can see the North Celestial Pole.  Losada focused on the North  Star and over two hours recorded a series of 30 second exposures which created the star trails that make up this spectacular sky.

It was just a great photo and it certainly did strike home even though the tree was not exactly my Red Tree.  But  Tony was right.  The tree , the saddle in the center of the photo created by the wide angle of the lens  and the silhouettes of trees on the horizon reminded me of much of my work.  I had even done a painting or two with that same swirl of light and color in the sky.

Please check out Jeronimo Losada’s  blog  to see some of his other wonderful shots of the landscape beneath the night sky.  There are some brilliant shots there and it’s well worth a visit.  It is a Spanish language site but most browsers have translators.

And for some other great shots of the heavens check out the Astronomy Picture of the Day.  Today’s is a great shot as well.




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GC Myers- The Upward Gaze smAstronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.


I have painted a couple of paintings this past year that have featured an observatory propped upon a hill.   I like the idea that this building has a shape and a location that instantly defines it, making it almost symbolic of the desire to transcend this world that it contains.  This desire to transcend, to know more, is built within us and we  seek these existential answers in many ways, sometimes in the stars and sometimes in the spiritual.  Others seek these answers in other worldly ways, either through love , pleasure or labor, among many other things.

These different ways of searching  are what I think is the central theme of this new new painting, The Upward Gaze, a 20″by 24″ canvas that is part of my November show, Alchemy, at the Kada Gallery.  The observatory is there resting high above the other buildings as it looks for the celestial answer: where have we come from?  Then there is the a church with a steeple that is pointing upward seeking an response from above to its question: where are we going?  On the lower left there is a barn among the fields which for me symbolizes the question: what is our purpose here?  The Red Roofs of all of the buildings here act as indicators, each pointing upward.

The road heads outward from this group of building, moving  toward and disappearing before  the horizon, over which an all-knowing  sun/moon hovers among a mosaic sky.  The soft,broken colors of the sky feel like light particles to me, the energy that propels this whole thing.

It’s a seemingly simple painting but I think there is much more to it…

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