Explore the Beauty of Space With the NASA Photo Archives
It is impossible to look at photos of space and not feel awe. A picture of Earth as seen from the moon, the rings of Saturn, or a nebula can only fill a viewer with wonder. Such images are where science and art meet, teaching us more about the cosmos even as they leave us pondering our place in the universe.
Some of the best space photography has been compiled in Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA. The images, taken by the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, Herschel Space Observatory, and other equipment, offer a stunning look at the vast realm beyond our planet. Writer Nirmala Nataraj and scientist Bill Nye hope the book inspires as well as informs.
“Photos are one of the primary ways we learn to process phenomena that are inexplicable and vast,” Nataraj says. “When we find ourselves bumping up against the ceiling of our imagination, photos of space help us recapture a sense of wonder, possibility, and curiosity about the nature of the cosmos.”
Most of the images were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, though one of the most touching was snapped by an astronaut who used a 35mm point and shoot to capture the the sight of sunlight beaming down on Earth.
Nataraj and Nye take the reader on a trip through the cosmos, moving ever further from Earth with each image. We see Earth from the space shuttle, move beyond the planets of our own solar system, and into interstellar space before stopping at a cluster of galaxies colliding some 5.4 billion light years away. It’s an incomprehensible phenomenon occurring an unfathomable distance away, yet NASA has photographed it. The fact that image exists is almost as amazing as what it shows.
“The views amaze and astonish us; the images themselves are artwork,” writes Bill Nye in the book’s preface. “But unlike many portraits, landscapes, or still lifes, these photographs are not the product of one artist or visionary. Instead, these images were created by a national program and are the result of the work of thousands of highly skilled engineers, artisans, and scientists who share the human need to explore and feel the joy of discovery.”
Chronicle Books released Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA in October.
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