Cosmic Cliffs Infinite Galaxy Puzzle Features New Imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope
This week, the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope amazed and daunted us with their inordinately deep looks at the cosmos, particularly the shot of the glimmering star-forming region known as the “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula. The team over at the Catskills-based studio Nervous System translated this galactic masterpiece into a new, similarly expansive infinity puzzle intended to be tiled continuously, with no predetermined shape, start, or end. Similar to its other designs, this iteration includes four whimsy cuts in the shape of an astronaut, a shooting star, a satellite, and the gold mirrors of the groundbreaking telescope itself. Try your hand at puzzling together distant galaxies by picking up the 264-piece jigsaw from the Nervous System shop.
Share this story
Brilliant Phenomena and Galactic Skies Light Up the 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist
Whether in the form of nebulae or starry galactic expanses, natural light continues to dominate Royal Museums Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition (previously). The 14th annual contest garnered more than 3,000 submissions from 67 countries, and a shortlist of finalists contains stunning shots of a September harvest moon illuminating Glastonbury Tor, the brilliant streaks trailing Comet Leonard, and the vibrant Aurora Borealis casting an ominous glow above a battered ship in Westfjords.
Winning photos will be announced on September 15 with an exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum on September 17. Until then, peruse the full collection on the Royal Museum Greenwich site.
Share this story
Tiny Human Activities Erupt into Vast Celestial Nightscapes in New Paintings by Oliver Jeffers
Whether working in acrylic on panel or illustrating a scene for one of his children’s books, artist Oliver Jeffers is fascinated by positioning. He returns to questions about perspective and finding a place in the world amidst chaotic politics and an overwhelmingly vast universe.
In The Night in Bloom, a series of ten works soon to be on view at Praise Shadows Art Gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, Jeffers imagines explosive astronomical scenes and impeccably aligned constellations. One work shrouds an abandoned picnic in deep blues and purples before erupting into a bright nebula, cradling stars between the soft glow of city skylines. Another piece, which the artist will replicate at a massive scale on a facade at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, depicts a figure at home underneath a colorful expanse of galaxies and celestial bodies.
Each of the stellar works, which are the artist’s first rendered in acrylic, celebrates the possibilities of the unknown. He explains:
The worlds beyond our world, whose clues only reveal themselves when the light of our day grows low enough to view the dramatic and brilliantly colorful heavens after dusk, suggest a vastness we cannot possibly comprehend above our heads. These are the same heads that grow bored of looking for what to play on the radio, wonder when our internet purchase will arrive, or what activity we will use to pass the time this weekend. Perhaps there is more to this business of being alive than we give ourselves time (and perspective) to enjoy.
Jeffers, who splits his time between Belfast and Brooklyn, recently unveiled Our Place in Space, a series of sculptures that bring the solar system to Northern Ireland and Cambridge. This immersive experience complements The Night in Bloom, which will run from June 3 to July 10. Explore more of the artist’s dreamy paintings, sculptures, and illustrations on his site and Instagram.
Share this story
A Timelapse of Dazzling Star Trails Swirl Around a Psychedelic Nightscape at Joshua Tree
Set to a gentle, upbeat track by Moby Gratis, “Moonlight Mojave” spins through the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park under the glow of a night sky. The timelapse compiles 20-second exposures into a deceptive display of light and movement, with the moon and stars illuminating the arid expanses as if it were daytime. Peeking through the eponymous, shrub-like trees, photographer Gavin Heffernan (previously) captures radiant star trails that streak across the bright blue sky, emphasizing the earth’s usually imperceptible rotation.
The entrancing video is part of the multi-faceted Skyglow project, a collaborative effort between Heffernan, director Harun Mehmedinovic (previously)—he’s behind the documentary Ice on Fire—and the International Dark-Sky Association. Exploring the effects of light pollution on the already fragile planet, Skyglow is comprised of multiple video works like “Moonlight Mojave,” a book and print collection, and a forthcoming feature-length film. You can explore more from the project’s creators on its site.
Share this story
Stars and Comets Shimmer in Juha Tanhua’s Galactic Photos of Parking Lot Oil Spills
In this collection of cosmic photographs, comets, nebulas, and galaxies stretch before the human eye, showering the sky in glittering scenes that ought to be from a telescope. But instead of looking upward into the night, Finnish photographer Juha Tanhua points his camera to the ground. He documents his “oil paintings” in broad daylight, shooting gasoline and oil spills usually found in car parks. “I don’t look up, but down,” he tells Colossal. “It’s not space above us; it’s space under our feet. You can find subjects to photograph even in dull places like parking lots. Expect nothing, get everything.”
The photographer first got his idea for the gasoline puddles when noticing an oil spill next to his car. “It looked a little bit like the northern lights,” he says. He forgot about the image, which he named “Urban Aurora Borealis,” until finding it months later when organizing an archive. After that, when walking around parking lots after heavy rain, he began to notice more leaks and started to document them. He now has hundreds in his collection. “I named them oil paintings,” he says. “Because it looked like artworks under cars.”
Tanhua likens rain to a brush, which “paints the artwork” and is an essential component in ensuring the stains don’t fade in the dry summer. Once captured, he plays with the exposure, editing the highlights, shadows, and contrasts of each image to gain the appearance of galactic matter from a combination of the oil patterns and the ground’s rough texture.“When I shoot against black asphalt and underexpose the image, the rocks on the asphalt turn into stars,” he explains.
Currently living in the small village of Vuolenkoski, near Lahti in Southern Finland, Tanhua obtained his first camera at age 15, when his father gifted him an Olympus 35 DC compact model that he purchased while working in Japan. In 1979, Tanhua began an apprenticeship at a local studio, which launched subsequent careers in journalism and later freelance photography. His works are now included in collections within the Finnish National Gallery and Lahti Art Museum. You can find more of his photos on his website. (via Peta Pixel)
Share this story
Brilliant Solar Flares and the Northern Lights Appear in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist
A trippy shot of the psychedelic California Nebula, a panorama of the Milky Way sprawling above French lavender crops, and a phenomenal glimpse of the sun’s magnetic field bursting after a solar flare are a few of the stellar images on the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist. Hosted by Royal Museums Greenwich for the past 13 years, the annual contest garnered more than 4,5000 images of the green lights of the Aurora, distant nebula, and other galactic sights from entrants in 75 countries. The winner will be announced on September 16 prior to the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition of the works opening on September 18. You can see more of the top photos on the contest site. (via Kottke)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.