The Night sky


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For as long as human beings have walked the earth, there has been a great interest in what lies above our heads. Our fascination begins with the question of what these points of light are among the infinite black and where they come from. Where does our existence fit in with all that is contained in the universe?From the first observations of the night sky to capturing the beauty of the stars on a canvas, this exhibition strives to show how science and art come together when answering the question of what lies above us. When every point on Earth offers a new perspective on the night sky, it is no surprise that the heavens have been represented in infinite variations by various people. This begins with the naked human eye and evolves through telescopes and satellite photos.Our concept of the night sky incorporates the basic human instinct to explain the unknown. Our species has accomplished this through millennia by creating stories, or constellations to accompany the stars. Later telescopes were built and planets discovered. An artist's fascination with depicting the beauty of a starry, starry night can be seen as finding peace in the intangible. Finally, humans have taken to the skies themselves to learn more about the great mystery that is our universe.

Yantra of Jambudvipa: A Map of the Known Universe, ca. 1725, From the collection of: Cincinnati Art Museum
Some of the first depictions of the universe are shown in symbolic circle format, a symbol that represents different things in different cultures. Humans have always been attempting to relay what they see in the sky in a visual form.
1901, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
Another example of how visual depictions of the universe and sky carry similarities across cultures.
Brass Mathematical and Astronomical Instrument, Unknown, Iraq, 875-925, 0875/0925, From the collection of: The Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar
The universe is not only depicted in art in human history. This astronomical instrument from Iraq shows how some of the earliest forms of scientific instruments were designed.
1800, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
In addition to accurate maps of stars and planets, cultures also embellished these maps with fictional characters, some human and some animal and some deities. These constellations, such as the ones depicted here, are examples of myths and legends being combined with astronomy.
Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1888, From the collection of: Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Van Gogh's Starry Night is possibly one of the most recognizable pieces of art that shows a night sky full of stars.
Study of a Clouded Moonlit Sky, George Romney, 1734–1802, British, undated, From the collection of: Yale Center for British Art
The Moon has brought the same amount of fascination to humans as the stars. Here is it depicted as the focal point shrouded in clouds, adding to its mysterious persona.
The Milky Way, Mawalan 1 MARIKA | Rirratjingu people, c.1965, From the collection of: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
As the largest group of stars in the sky, the Milky Way is depicted here as a river with creatures swimming through it. This is another example of the sky being given properties of the Earth, in this painting as a body of water.
The night circled in its immense space, the orb turned by Atlas, #4, Lipman-Wulf, Peter, 1974, From the collection of: Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History
Paintings of the night sky often depict a person or God holding up the Moon and stars. This contributes to cultural myths and stories.
The Queen of Night, Choi, Hyo Soon, 2008, From the collection of: Korean Art Museum Association
Another example of an animal or being as part of the night, this time using a creature of the night, the moth.
Continuing the theme of creatures of flight being synonymous with the night sky, here Night is shown to be a woman with wings like a bird.
Full moon, P.S. Krøyer, 1894, From the collection of: Skagens Museum
The sky and moon can also be seen as a vast empty space, as seen here in this painting.
Astral Dance, Bang, Hai Ja, 1987, From the collection of: Korean Art Museum Association
The night sky is expanded to the cosmos, a larger group of stars and an expanse of space not visible from Earth with the naked eye.
The Cosmos, Yi, Hee Choung, 2008, From the collection of: Korean Art Museum Association
The chaos of the cosmos shown through artistic interpretation.
Northern sky, Jan Wybrandtsz. Colck, 1649/1652, From the collection of: Royal Palace Amsterdam
A beautiful piece which acts as art and scientific instrument. This map of the northern sky is an example of a more astronomically correct piece.
1850, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
The Copernican Theory, essential to a modern understanding of our solar system. This shows how our view of the solar system evolves and changes with new discoveries.
Frontispiece for the "Opere di Galileo Galilei", Stefano Della Bella, 1656, From the collection of: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Galileo, an important figure in astronomy, is shown to be teaching others about his theories of the stars and planets.
Reflecting telescope, Johann Gottlob Rudolph, around 1750, From the collection of: Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, Dresden State Art Collections
This early telescope is also embellished with beautiful details which make it esthetically pleasing to the eye. This piece could be used as art or as a functioning scientific instrument.
Celestial globe, Anonymous Italian, 1579 - 1579, From the collection of: Bagatti Valsecchi Museum
Another piece which serves two purposes: a map of the heavens depicted in globe form, it also features artwork of the constellations.
Deepest Picture Of Space Captured By Nasa Hubble Telescope, 2004-03-09, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
The deepest picture of space as captured by the satellite, the Hubble Telescope. The Hubble represents humanity's need to know more about the heavens and universe. This desire lead human beings to reach out further into the skies and send satellites to gain more information.
Amateur Telescopes, J R Eyerman, 1956, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
This photograph shows amateur telescopes made by hand. Just as sculpture and painting require a distinct talent and patience, so does building your own telescope to observe the night sky.
2002-03-09, From the collection of: LIFE Photo Collection
The Hubble Telescope, as seen from the Space Station Columbia. This telescope represents humanity's need to fill the unknown void that is the universe with answers.
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