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The Art of Space: Introduction to “A Brush with the Future” Film


Before the advent of photographic plates, astronomers spent bone-chilling hours squinting through telescopes to painstakingly record, with pen and ink, ghostly renderings of what they saw among the stars. All of that changed in 1851 when John Adams Whipple of the Harvard Observatory captured the first daguerreotype of the star Vega and the cratered surface of the moon. These images replaced the role of the original space artists. More than a century later, a revival in space art began as engineers contemplating the possibility of traveling through space enrolled the services of artists like Chelsey Bonestell to portray the future. His renderings of rotating space stations and Mars rockets invigorated a new wave of young visionaries leading to the launch of satellites, landing on the moon, and the space shuttle. Decades later, complex data sets and spectra opened the door for a new type of space artist. Like Bonestell, these new science artists are revealing objects in outer space that even the Hubble Space Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope cannot image due to the vast distances of outer space.

 This seminar will offer an intriguing discussion of space art, a viewing of the film “A Brush with the Future” and a follow-up question-answer session.

Instructor Biography

David A. Aguilar is an internationally recognized naturalist/astronomer, author, onscreen science contributor and space artist with the unique ability to open minds to the vast frontiers of space and their potential effects on our own world. He is the former director of science information at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and past director of marketing communications for Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado. David has written and illustrated 12 award-winning children's books for National Geographic, was a member of the NASA Pluto Encounter Mission, has consulted and appeared in the History Channel's Universe series and has been honored with his own asteroid for achievements in furthering science education. He is also the science consultant for the TV series “UFO Hunters.”

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