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 A19761580-A19761591) and a series of 10 pastels rendered from the drawings after the end of the mission, in February 1974 (A19761592 - 1601). This rendering is of the comet on December 31, 1973, three days after perihelion.