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The 1992 Moment: Looking Beyond Earth

Portrait of the Milky Way Artwork

“Not only is the universe stranger than we have imagined, it is stranger than we can imagine.”
–Attributed to Sir Arthur Eddington, English astrophysicist (1882–1944)

Chesley Bonestell painted the Lunar Landscape mural for the Museum of Science, Boston in 1957 on the eve of the space age—just months before actual space exploration began to give humanity firsthand views from Earth orbit. So too, Jon Lomberg completed his commissioned painting of the Milky Way galaxy for the National Air and Space Museum in 1992, just months before the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission clarified the instrument’s initially fuzzy vision, allowing a new view of the universe and beyond.

The images that stem from that historical moment—both Lomberg’s precise artist’s view of the Milky Way and the Hubble images of galaxies and nebulae—stand as aesthetic masterpieces as well as scientific achievements.