Even as we humans employ increasingly sophisticated telescopes, probes, rovers and other technological marvels in order to learn more about our solar system and beyond, artists continue to engage their own (and one another's) imaginations to envision what the outermost reaches of space might look like.
Here, in celebration of the 125th birthday of Edwin Hubble — a man who revolutionized not only our view of the universe, but our ideas about humanity's place in the cosmos — one of the most prolific and celebrated of those "space artists," Ron Miller, shares 33 of his own works with LIFE.
Hold onto your hats. It's going to be a wild ride.
[NOTE: We recommend viewing this gallery in "Full Screen" mode.]
I have been fascinated by space travel and astronomy for literally as long as I can remember. I remember my father taking me outside one night to watch a little speck of light called Sputnik sail through the stars . . . and hurrying home from grade school every day so I wouldn't miss an episode of "Space Patrol" or "Mr. Wizard." I would have liked to have been a scientist, but a complete lack of talent in math made that impossible. So I did the next best thing: I combined my interest in space with my abilities as an artist. This, I knew, would be the only way in which I could travel to the moon, Mars and other planets. My ultimate goal is to make the other worlds we share the universe with as real to others as they are to me.
For decades I worked in traditional media, but deadlines eventually forced me to experiment with painting digitally. I now work this way exclusively, though a finished piece may often wind up being the result of a kind of hodgepodge of techniques that might include everything from pencil drawing and photography to sculpture.
Having this gallery of my art published by LIFE is especially meaningful to me. The legendary space artist, Chesley Bonestell, was one of the great influences on my life and career. Seventy years ago, in 1944, LIFE magazine featured Bonestell's first published space paintings. (In the May 29, 1944 issue, to be exact.) It was the start of a career that would not only influence scores of artists and scientists, but also helped jump-start America's fledgling space program. So this present gallery not only looks forward and outward to the wonders of the universe around us, but is a tip of the hat to the man who helped start our journey to the stars. — Ron Miller
Ron Miller is an illustrator specializing in science, astronomy, science fiction and fantasy and the author, co-author or editor of more than 50 books. He has designed postage stamps and worked on motion pictures as a production designer and special effects artist. His most recent book is The Art of Space: The History of Space Art, from the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era (Zenith Press, 2014). See more of his work at Black Cat Studios.