Drawings, Comet Kohoutek

A pastel on black cardboard rendering of Comet Kohoutek made by astronaut E. G. Gibson based on observations he made during the Skylab 3 mission. The comet was discovered in early March 1973 and was predicted to become a major celestial event since it was believed to be a primordial comet on its first passage into the inner solar system. Gibson, the science specialist and pilot for the third manned Skylab visit, is a solar physicist and focused on the astronomical experiments. He took the opportunity to observe the comet visually through different windows in Skylab during the 84-day mission, supplementing electronographic images taken by various Skylab telescopes.

The full suite of a dozen drawings and renderings was split between the space science collection and the art collection after it was donated by the Aerospace Corporation. The collection includes a series of twelve drawings made while in orbit (Catalogue #s A19761580000-A19761591000) and a series of 10 pastels rendered from the drawings after the end of the mission, in February 1974. This rendering is of the comet on December 29, 1973, one day after perihelion.